Friday, April 17, 2009

Grey Gardens 2.0

Read my New Republic piece on Grey Gardens here.

In 1975, David and Albert Maysles made one of the most captivating and haunting documentary films the world has ever seen, Grey Gardens. Many of us have never stopped thinking about the film, which depicts Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter, Little Edie, as they tumble into a crazed codependence while their Hamptons mansion literally crumbles around them. There have been clothing lines, cabaret shows, and, most recently, a Tony-winning play based on Grey Gardens. And, tomorrow night, HBO premieres its own remake of the cult documentary, starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore as the disturbed mother and daughter. Apparently, there will be plenty of value added: Instead of recreating the Maysles' documentary, HBO will probe the early lives of these women and even feature the Maysles brothers themselves as characters in the movie. I'll certainly be watching. But, might I suggest, that if you haven't already, you watch the original documentary. Here is an essay I wrote about GreyGardens for TNR (for a feature we called "Lost and Found") a few years back that will hopefully inspire interest in this astonishing character study. Grey Gardens is portraiture, film, and art at their finest.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

My Hunter S. Thompson Relapse Fantasy

Here is the latest Proof essay from The New York Times. Excerpt below:

I was and am a Thompson fan. Perhaps because his addictions and his prose were so entwined and so visceral. Perhaps because he was writing during a time I always wished I had come of age in. And so, for several long days, I obsessed over what avenues I might have taken in life to put me in a position to meet Hunter S. Thompson and have him read to me from an original Rolling Stone magazine while at Owl Farm. I even realized that — ha! — the night in question was almost a year before I quit drugs and alcohol. As if the fantasy could now be guilt-free. As if now, should time travel suddenly exist and should I be able to become my friend for a night, I’d be good to go.

And I can imagine it so well! While Thompson tells me about the Vegas articles, he hands me some patented cocktail of substances; maybe I demur at first, but then he says, “Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals—and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether.”
To read the whole essay, click here.