Mrs. Somebody.

So, in the last few weeks I’ve been to a Patti Smith reading/signing; seen “Heart of a Dog,” the new Laurie Anderson movie; and heard Monday’s “Fresh Air” episode, with Illeana Douglas, the actress — she has a new memoir.

All are, or were, partnered with a man of equal or greater fame – Smith with Fred Smith, Detroit rock legend (OK, he probably took a back seat to his wife, fame-wise, but they were a power couple); Anderson with Lou Reed, and Douglas with film director Martin Scorsese, who was also her mentor.

I’ve been reading in the new Smith book, and I’m struck by how…ordinary it is. The story about the boat with a broken axle? Amusing, but ultimately, your life is just as interesting. I promise you. But people in the audience that night were rapt, absorbing the details of this pair’s domestic life, as though there was a secret about to be revealed — of coolness, or magic, or powerful creativity. There seems to be an inordinate interest in the personal lives of doubly famous couples, and maybe it’s a fact of being older, but the more I learn about people, the more I believe we have a lot more in common than not, and that the lives of the famous/brilliant and anonymous/ordinary contain a roughly equal number of farts, whining, dumb conversation and other things that make us wonder what life would be like if we’d only married someone famous and brilliant. (Note the children of these pairs, how often they are deeply unimpressed by mom and dad. Take your cue from them.) They probably go to better parties and have nicer clothes and travel schedules, but that’s about it.

Not that I’m not insanely jealous of Illeana Douglas, mind you; the other ladies can keep Sonic Smith and Lou Reed, but I’d pay money to share coffee with Scorsese in the morning.

The Anderson movie is very fine, but it’s about…well, it’s about a lot of things, but death is the biggie, as the whole thing is purportedly inspired by the death of Anderson’s rat terrier, Lolabelle. But someone else died in the last year in Anderson’s family, and Himself goes unmentioned, appearing in one brief shot and the very last one of the movie. There’s a certain oooh, it’s him frisson when his famous face flashes by.

No such enigmatic take for Douglas, who complained sharply about the interviewers who assume genius and influence only flows in one direction, always asking her how Scorsese affected her work, but never asked her paramour how she might have influenced his own. (If you think the casting of Don Rickles in “Casino” was genius, credit Douglas.)

Bottom line: Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman, giving all your love to just one man.

Sorry no posting last night. I wrote much of the above in my last hour of consciousness, and this morning the punctuation was definitely showing it. But that allows me to absorb the election results, which weren’t particularly surprising. I guess the Houston equal-rights ordinance being overturned is the biggest news, but I’ve felt for a while now that transgender rights are not going to be as easy a sell as the LGB variety, so again, probably not surprising. As soon as you can convince the rubes that little girls won’t be safe in their own bathrooms, it’ll be game over for the other side. I don’t want to keep returning to Toronto, but I will say I noticed a trend in the restaurants we visited — the rise of the unisex toilet.

In this country we call them “family” facilities, and they’re useful for fathers out with little girls, and vice versa, and using them, you see men and women and toddlers, most often. But in Canada many places had three one-holers — M, W, U. I have no idea if this is a transgender accommodation or not, but I noticed.

Finally, I listen to less public radio in the evenings than in the mornings, and missed the “Marketplace” interview this piece in Fortune, about Ben Carson’s ignorance of economics, is based on. Simultaneously amazing and depressing.

So, let’s tackle Wednesday. Coffee’s calling.

Posted at 7:53 am in Current events, Popculch |

30 responses to “Mrs. Somebody.”

  1. Kirk said on November 4, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Legal weed lost in a landslide in Ohio, but even some legislators from Bumfuck are surprised to learn that lots of non-hippies are interested in medical marijuana.

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  2. Julie Robinson said on November 4, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Dad was THE celebrity in the small community where I grew up; he was the news and sports guy for the only radio station and also had a morning call-in show. Between the show, the news, broadcasting the games and anchoring city council meetings, it was hard to avoid hearing him. To me he was just Dad, feet of clay and all. I think this helped me be unimpressed by celebrity, and the few times I’ve been near one I ignored them. Constant interruptions when out do not make for good family life.

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  3. coozledad said on November 4, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Ben Carson says National Review has sent a submarine after him. I didn’t even know they had enough money for a Jon boat.

    I wonder how short a straw you have to draw to pull that detail. Jonah Goldberg always has the free head tied up and K-Lo pulls out her rosary every time her ears start to pop.

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  4. Heather said on November 4, 2015 at 9:11 am

    If you’re not Ileana Douglas’d out, her interview on Marc Maron’s podcast WTF a while ago is also really good. I want to read the memoir now. Did anyone else read Kim Gordon’s recent memoir? She was in Sonic Youth with her husband, Thurston Moore. They were married or at least together for about 30 years, and then he turned out to have been having an affair with a younger woman for several years there at the end. The general consensus is, whoops, all this time we thought Thurston was a genius and it was really Kim propping him up.

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  5. Heather said on November 4, 2015 at 9:12 am

    If you’re not Ileana Douglas’d out, her interview on Marc Maron’s podcast WTF a while ago is also really good. I want to read the memoir now.

    Did anyone else read Kim Gordon’s recent memoir? She was in Sonic Youth with her husband, Thurston Moore. They were married or at least together for about 30 years, and then he turned out to have been having an affair with a younger woman for several years there at the end. The general consensus is, whoops, all this time we thought Thurston was a genius and it was really Kim propping him up. Anyway, Kim has had a really interesting life, worked in the art world in the 80s and was otherwise in the right place at all the cool times.

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  6. Heather said on November 4, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Whoops, double post!

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  7. Connie said on November 4, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Michigan’s two adulterous former state reps are NOT re-elected.

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  8. Jeff Borden said on November 4, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Kudos to Kentucky for electing a tea party loon as governor. He plans to torpedo the highly successful insurance exchange KYnect, of course, which was created by executive order by the outgoing Democrat. Republicans can always count on a significant number of people voting against their own self interests.

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  9. ROGirl said on November 4, 2015 at 9:40 am

    I worked at a place where there was a unisex bathroom in the office area and m/f bathrooms in other parts of the building. I stopped using the unisex bathroom pretty quickly because it got really gross and disgusting, and the cleaning staff rarely, if ever, got to it.

    Ben Carson’s real motive?

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  10. Sue said on November 4, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Basset, Dave and Alex from yesterday, if you’re ever in my neck of the woods:

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  11. alex said on November 4, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Very cool, Sue! I’d like to check that out.

    In my neck of the woods (Dave’s too) we have a similar museum dedicated to another storied American marque:

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  12. coozledad said on November 4, 2015 at 12:13 pm

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  13. brian stouder said on November 4, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Honestly, Saturday Night Live couldn’t make up anything more ridiculous than this –

    the lead –

    FRANKFORT, Kentucky — Republican Matt Bevin’s win in the governor’s race here gives the Republicans near total control of statehouses in the South and could result in the dismantling of one of the most extensive efforts to implement Obamacare of any state in the country.

    Bevin, who has never before held elective office, is a controversial figure here — even among Republicans. He clashed with the party establishment last year when he challenged incumbent U.S. Senate Mitch McConnell. And he was sharply criticized during his 2014 Senate campaign for attending a pro-cockfighting rally. (Bevin does not support cockfighting and later apologized for the appearance.)

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  14. Sherri said on November 4, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    The national news from election day may not be great, but local news here was pretty good. The mayoral race I’ve been working on looks like it’s safely in the right hands. We vote by mail, so on election night, we only get the numbers of the ballots that have been returned and verified for counting prior to election day, and the ballots dropped off on election day will be in this evening’s count. But, our opponent would have to get over 60% of the outstanding ballots to make up the difference, and that seems very unlikely.

    I’m very relieved. The guy running against the mayor was ridiculously unqualified.

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  15. brian stouder said on November 4, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    “ridiculously unqualified”

    Sherri – that’s a term I shall immediately adopt!

    This seems to be the season for the RU’s

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  16. Sherri said on November 4, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    His only qualifications were that he lived in the city of Redmond and had worked for King County and the City of Seattle as some sort of budget consultant, it was hard to get a handle on exactly what he had done. He had never run for elected office, he had never served on a board or commission, he had never been active as a volunteer in the community. He had never attended a city council meeting. Redmond is bordered on one side by an area of unincorporated King County that with Redmond mailing addresses that isn’t in the city and therefore those people can’t vote in the mayoral election; he didn’t know that. There’s a 25 year old state law, the Growth Management Act, that sets urban growth boundaries and requires cities to plan for and accept their share of the growth of the area; he thought we should revisit that.

    I doubt he ever would have thought of running on his own, but the previous mayor is a real piece of work, and she hates the current mayor, and is the vindictive sort, and fed his ego and got him to run. She’s obviously scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to find a new puppet.

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  17. Judybusy said on November 4, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Scary that Carson doesn’t seem to get the difference between the debt ceiling and budget, even with prompts! I shudder to think who could be our next president. Climate change i s really on my mind most days, but especially now, as the current issue of NG is all about it. We are so so f*cked if we don’t do something about this. If we were a tiny, no-account nation, no biggie, but we’re not.

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  18. brian stouder said on November 4, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    So, if the guy had won, you’d have had a PBS mini-series in your own town – a sort of “Playing the King (County)” kind of thing, with intrigue and duplicity (and sex!)

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  19. Sue said on November 4, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    I feel bad for the people of Kentucky. Things are about to get interesting down there, and not in a good way. And if I’m reading this correctly, a large part of the reason they have this new guy is because they love their Kynect but hate Obamacare?

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  20. alex said on November 4, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Brian, get a load of the sophomoric smile on this guy. Probably got frozen that way after putting dirty speculums in his mouth.

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  21. brian stouder said on November 4, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Alex, I saw that story and cringed.

    What a maroon. He should have zero chance of getting his license back, but this being Indiana, who knows?

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  22. coozledad said on November 4, 2015 at 5:39 pm


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  23. Bob (not Greene) said on November 4, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    Cooze, everyone knows the pyramids were simply storage sheds for the giant tetrahedrons that Egyptians adored. There’s a missing chapter from Exodus where Joseph is quoted as bitching about the time he was wasting simply to satisfy “the Pharaohs and their subjects’ goddamned love of polyhedrons. Pagans!”

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  24. Icarus said on November 4, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    “Basically, a bunch of rich jerks were trying to corner the pot market in the state by appealing to people’s desire to toke up. It didn’t work; 64% of the voters turned it down, including me. I’m not against the legalization of pot generally, but I was against this. That was some bullshit right here.”

    I guess it isn’t such a bad thing that legal weed isn’t a thing in Ohio yet.

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  25. coozledad said on November 4, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    Bob (not Greene):I took a survey course in ancient Egyptian history, and a two semester overview of ancient near eastern history viewed through the lens of the Old Testament.
    There was some mention of the Pyramid of Cheops being the equivalent of a WPA project, as the number of slaves required would have tied up the entire Egyptian army to perform guard duty.

    In short, the Pyramids are similar to the Lincoln Memorial. Patriotic funereal edifices that invest the poor in the fate of the ruling classes, or a religious/civic pride while keeping them busy cutting, moving, and heaping massive stones in exchange for wages.
    Win win.

    That may be at the heart of why Carson doesn’t know fuck all about anything. His ideology and religion have scarred his brain beyond usefulness.

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  26. David C. said on November 4, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    This past summer, I was riding my bike through the park and I heard a kid screaming. When I saw what was going on, I say a woman dragging a boy about 3 into the women’s restroom. I heard the kid screaming “Nooo”, “I can’t”, and finally “Why”. I heard the mom saying “Because your dumb-ass dad and Uncle Jake ran off and I can’t leave you alone”. Finally, she manages to drag him in and the last thing I heard him say was “But I’m a man”. They could have used a family restroom. This is probably the best eavesdrop of my whole life.

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  27. Brandon said on November 4, 2015 at 8:22 pm

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  28. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 4, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    It’s a Seventh Day Adventist thing, based on assumptions about the latter chapters of Genesis, the Joseph narrative, and how he’s actually Imhotep:

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  29. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 4, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    And of course you know how those granaries worked when you opened the hatch to let the quadrotriticale pour out . . .

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  30. Brandon said on November 5, 2015 at 2:22 am

    @Jeff: According to the book on the Pyramids (the last link in my post), it was also a widespread belief among medieval Europeans that they served as granaries. But this was before modern archaeology.

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