Posts tagged ‘barack obama’

May 1, 2011

President Obama and Seth Meyers at The White House Correspondents Dinner–Watch entire video here


“Donald Trump is here tonight. Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is prouder to put this birth certificate to rest than The Donald. Now he can get to focusing on the issues that matter. Like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened at Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”


“Donald  Trump owns the Miss USA pageant, which is great for Republicans because it will streamline their search for a Vice President.”

April 22, 2011

The rich and famous put on Easter one egg at a time (or, The Politics of Blasphemy)

Donald Trump–“I want to see the death certificate. Isn’t it more than a bit suspicious that the date of his death changes every year? I’ve spared no expense putting private investigators on the case.”

Lindsey Lohan–“There’s a security camera video of me walking out of the store wearing The Cross?”

Donald Trump–“LET ME FINISH. Yes, I used to be pro choice and against the death penalty. But the more I came to understand Easter, the more I became pro life and for the death penalty. NEXT QUESTION.”

Barack Obama–“My base, my base, why have you forsaken me?”

Michelle Bachmann–“My fellow Iowans let us rejoice on this day, for we Christians celebrate the resurrection of The Easter Bunny.”

Kim Kardashian— “I got nailed one long hot weekend in East LA by a guy named Jesus. I’ve been nailed by more guys than drywall, but I thought Jesus was special. He kept moaning ‘today you will be with me in paradise.’ I never saw him again after that Sunday. Whatever.”

Nate Berkus— “I’m the first openly gay male talk-show host.  Who but Tom Kolovos would ever interpret that as a slam against Anderson Cooper? I know for a fact that up until I started this embarrassing, poorly rated and often ridiculed  talk show of mine, Tom thought I was one of the very few openly gay men on television to comport himself with any dignity. Apparently he no longer feels that way. Now if you will excuse me, I need to do a segment on how to use Easter as an excuse to make you repaint your house in pastels with Behr paint. Anything for a buck, right?

Julie Taymore–“It is finished.”

Rick Santorum–“If everybody followed Christ’s example, we wouldn’t even need Medicare and Social Security. The Bible makes it clear that Easter is about cutting entitlement programs and reducing the deficit.”

Mel Gibson— “Listen Mary, you f***ing whore, you’re an embarrassment to me. You look like a f—ing pig in heat, and if you get raped by a pack of n—ers, it will be your fault.”

Charlie Sheen— “Some Jews nailed a guy to a cross? Welcome to Hollywood, my friend.”

Jesus–“If Charlie Sheen rises again before I do, I’m gonna be really pissed.”

Kobe Bryant—  “I never put all my eggs in one basket, you f***ing faggot.”

Pope Benedict XVI–“And to those of you in America who  have strayed from the teachings, I say to you the story of Jesus and Judas proves that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ worked for some 33 years. The Catholic Church can prove that it works for a lot longer than that.”

Rahm Emanuel–“To all you that gave up liquor for Lent, I say come to Chicago on May 16th for my swearing in ceremony as Mayor. It will be sponsored by EFFEN Vodka.”

John Galliano— “Bartender, one more round for the ugly lady.”

Oprah–“It is finished.”

John Edwards–“This would be a good time to remind everybody that I’m not the first man to ask another to pretend to be the father of his child. The other time would be around Christmas. See, we do live in two Americas!”

Ricky Gervais–(The Easter Bunny, unlike Tim Allen, has a wicked sense of humor.)

Donald Trump–I’M NOT FINISHED. What gives Obama the right to question anyone about my integrity and the business history of the Trump Tower in Chicago? Ivanka take him down, baby. Treat him like a buyer at the height of the market. Look him in the eye. You know our motto, no crisis big enough that the Donald can’t solve by looking someone in the eye. WE’RE FINISHED HERE, CURIOUS GEORGE.”

Greg Mortenson–“I was there with the 12 Apostles and Mary Magdalene and the whole gang. Really. I  wrote about it in my new book  3  Cups of Warranty Not Included.”

Lady Gaga releases her new single. “I’m just a Holy Fool, oh baby he’s so cruel, but I’m still in love with Judas.”

The Easter Bunny will be on sabbatical until next year, depending on what religious calendar you follow. He can live with himself everyday and hams it up by laying green eggs.

Related post: “Bad Reputation” and Stewie Rah Rah, the #1 king of fun

November 1, 2009

The Women (1929/1939/2009)

tom_kolovos_wordpressnewEven if Jodi Kantor’s  essay “The First Marriage” in the New York Times Magazine  didn’t have the misfortune of appearing in the same Sunday edition as  the extraordinary continuing series “Women at Arms,” which today highlighted the  difficulties women veterans face when diagnosed with with post traumatic stress disorder from the Iraq/Afganistan wars, it would still come off as a thoughtless, tone deaf and premature hagiography of Michelle Obama. (Yes, the real subject here is not the marriage but Michelle. Surprise.)

You don’t have to be a raving fringe political lunatic (Liz Cheney comes to mind) to notice that even though Ms Kantor’s aim is to illuminate how the Obamas “mix politics and romance in a way that no first couple have before,” her tiresome analysis (and dubious premise) is short on history and long on the two-married-professionals-with-children cliches better suited to the ilk of celebrity rags and television chat shows.

And you don’t have to be Virginia Woolf to know that intelligent and ambitious  women have historically sacrificed so the men in their lives get ahead. (Wo)Man bites dog circa 1929.

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Compared with the two most obvious political high wire duo marriages of the last century,  The Kennedys and the Clintons, The Obama’s balancing act comes off as cotidian. (Perhaps that’s the way in which it it’s “modern,”  by which Ms Kantor surely means contemporary, but as I said history is not her forte.)

There’s nothing here  that any one of us out here in a long term relationship hasn’t experienced and nothing newsworthy about the balancing act all of us have to achieve in  life once we grow up and realize that balance and compromise (if we’re lucky) is all there is. The Obamas spent a lot of time apart when Barack ran for political office. They weren’t making a lot of money. They couldn’t all be there for the girls’ activities.  Barack thought he could go it alone. Michelle never signed up to be a political wife. Michelle’s character and support were invaluable to Barack’s success. Yada yada yada.

You mean to tell us, Ms Kantor, that Pat Nixon knowingly signed on for the disgrace of Watergate? Laura Bush for the the alcoholism and coke fueled benders? Hillary for the public infidelities? Nancy Reagan for the 10 years of home nursing? Jackie Kennedy for the blood splattered head of her husband in her lap?

It simply does not occur to Ms Kantor that,  given what could possibly go wrong in a  political marriage, the way she portrays the Obama’s marriage as a  shiny new model of “modernity” just a year into the job, she’s completely overreaching.

Her obtuseness reaches its nadir when she walks “into the Hyde Park apartment the Obama’s bought when they married, hoping to find clues to their old lives. The cramped master bedroom,” she proudly observes, “had a closet barely big enough for one wardrobe. Where did Michelle keep her clothes?” Excuse  me?

The marriage of Jacqueline Bouvier into the crass Kennedy clan was seminal to the political career of JFK. So even if we start there, the very notion that Mrs Obama was intent on upscaling her husband’s office space, his venues for public appearances  and ultimately humanizing him by appearing in public and speaking on his behalf speaks both to the naivete of Ms Kantor and to the valuable image savvy of Mrs Obama.

The wide latitude that Mrs Obama can enjoy in her role  as First Lady, is in no small part due to the trailblazing legacy of Hillary Clinton, so it’s snarky on the part of Ms Kantor to  both oversimplify the comparisons between the Clintons and the Obamas and then to take cheap shots at Mrs Clinton’s expense. “While the Clinton marriage seems forged in shared beliefs about the promise of politics, the Obama union has been a decades-long debate about whether politics could be an effective avenue for social change.” Clinton bad. Obama good. Got it. Thanks.

She continues: Michelle “also played a vital role in heading off the most promising female candidate in United States history. It was essential for the Obama campaign to present some sort of accomplished female counterweight to Hillary Clinton, to convince Democratic women that they could vote for Barack Obama and a powerful female figure besides. Consciously or not, Michelle made herself into an appealing contrast to the front-runner. She was candid; Hillary was often guarded. Michelle represented the idea that a little black girl from the South Side of Chicago could grow up to be first lady of the United States; Hillary stood for the hold of the already-powerful on the political system. And Michelle seemed to have the kind of marriage many people might aspire to; Hillary did not.”

And then there’s this. Kantor reports that “as a first-time candidate, Barack could be stiff; friends remember him talking to voters with his arms folded, looking defensive. Michelle warmed everyone up, including her husband. “She is really Bill, and he is really Hillary,” one friend recently put it.” We get it. She’s not Hillary.

As I was reading the essay I was reminded how much of the seriously misguided effort by Ms Kantor could easily be remade as  a screwball comedy, let’s just say the George Cukor classic 1939 film of Clare Boothe Luce’s play The Women. It would take  some time to figure out which First Lady and in which way Ms Kantor has maligned whom so I could align them with the the cast of the film, but I think it could be done.

Jungle red mother.

TheBestDressedList.com

TomKolovos.com

October 18, 2009

Every picture tells a story, don’t it?

tom_kolovos_wordpressnew

All dressed up and nowhere to go? You’re not alone.

You’ve got the 4 models in the Victor Skrebneski produced fashion feature in the 27th anniversary issue of Today’s Chicago Woman to keep you company.  Spread on the floor, each in a 2 page spread,  in various stages of orgasmic exhibitionism which every couture clad professional gal surely finds herself now and again and again, the first model appears to be using her bejeweled bangled hand to pocket pool herself and, when she reappears at the end, she’s using her entire forearm to anally….WTF?

“Success stories don’t get much better than this” proclaims the cover. Really? Yes, the caption does, in all fairness, refer to the real estate agent on the cover but who cares about her and her success when Skrebneski locates the multiple listing service in your G spot?

In stark contrast, and  as conceived by Maurizio Cattelan and  photographed by Pierpaolo Ferrari, the cover of the November issue of W magazine is  part of what the editors describe as a “politically and religiously charged portfolio” starring Linda Evangelista.

I can’t guarantee that what you’ll find inside the pages of the 4th annual “art issue” has any more or less artistic merit than what you find inside Today’s Chicago Woman, but  I am sure that the cover photo has a  politically charged urgency that taps into the global zeitgeist and that stops you dead in your tracks as it sets your mind racing.

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Here’s the surreal juxtaposition of Linda”I don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day” Evangelista, the most cinematic of the 80’s “greed is good” supermodels, a good deal more rotund  than current standards allow but no less the superb “still actress” she always was, holding a cardboard sign that declares “IT MUST BE SOMEBODY’S FAULT.”

As obvious as the cardboard sign is to read (and agree with if it refers to the global economic meltdown), what it means depends on how you read it. For starters, where in that sentence is the correct inflection? (Fans of the masterful film writer and director John Sayles will recall the “I didn’t ask for the anal probe” scene from Passion Fish.)

And how does one read that sign given the rest of the images in the photo?

She’s is, after all, wearing an Oscar de la Renta dress and $1,699,000.00 in De Beer’s diamond jewelry including a double cross. She’s perfectly manicured, coiffed and made up but the expression on her face is alarmingly vacant.  What, if anything, is really bothering, bewildering and bewitching her? An American flag can be seen  clearly affixed to a building behind her. The gaze of the suited black male is ambiguously affixed to her? To us? To the studly white uniformed male intruding in the right foreground?

Who is she? Victim? Perpetrator? Prophet? Judge? Jury? Grand Inquisitor?  Who are the men and who are they to her?

And what is IT? The spectacular fall of the supermodel? The divulsion of the unregulated derivative/Bernie Madoff ponzi economy?  The inability of Miley Cyrus to, like,  construct a proper sentence in, like, English ? The collapse of the luxury goods market? Is she sympathetic or pathetic?

Life imitated art Thursday night, making the timing of the politically and religiously charged portfolio even more prescient, at a town hall meeting in New Orleans where President Obama was asked by Tyren Scott, a  4th-grader, “Why do people hate you? And why, aren’t they supposed to love you, if God is love?”

The President came up with an unfortunately  simplistic and patronizing answer, as if to prove that you can graduate from Harvard and teach at the University of Chicago, but you’re still not smarter than a 4th grader. When Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd have lost any semblance of faith in your competence, you’re just stroking your own oversize ego when you declare:

“First of all, I did get elected president, so not everybody hates me; I got a whole lot of votes. A lot of it is what’s called politics, where once one party wins, the other party feels like they’ve got to poke you a little bit to keep you on your toes. So you shouldn’t take it too seriously.”

Seriously, Tyren, IT MUST BE SOMEBODY’S FAULT. And after 9 months of on the job ineptitude on foreclosure reform, health care reform, banking reform, immigration reform. ‘don’t ask don’t tell” reform and evisceration of every campaign promise by special interest politics, the fault lies squarely with Barck Obama. Location, location, location.

Good art sometimes thrives on ambiguity and even derives its meaning from it. Political leadership does not.

TheBestDressedList.com

tomkolovos.com


October 11, 2009

Love in the Time of Cholera (2009)

tom_kolovos_wordpressnew

Hopelessly inarticulate, short, portly, poorly dressed, perpetually sweaty, his face toxically red from razor burn but not shame, graduate from the “don’t expect a Supreme Court justice to come from there anytime soon” John Marshall Law School, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has got to be looking at Barack Obama right now and laughing at him as if he wereBeyonce Clown from YouTube.

Because they don’t give Nobel prizes to the likes of  Henry Kissinger over Gandhi (or political immunity to child molesters  like Roman Polanski) anymore, Richard Daley was overlooked by the Nobel committee.

Chicago politics is infamous for corruption.  Well articulated pleasantries, transparency and full disclosure were run out of this town long before the gentrification began. (We’re happy enough not to be Florida, the state responsible for the coup d’etat that was the 2000 election.)

Daley, the Father and  the Son, and the wholly spirited voters can proclaim we built this city in 6 decades.  And on an unusually warm night last November, we rested on our laurels as the whole world watched us rebuild this city, Barack, and all.

Daley was named as best mayor in the US–and it wasn’t because of his ability to put together a  stirring sentence in proper English but because he gets things done.  It was  because he was able to put the right cronies–sorry, civic minded supporters– including his brother into the Clinton administration, in the right place at the right time to get what he wanted: to make this scrappy little two horse town (which his father had inherited as a one horse town) into a world class city, critics, ethics, the media, his constituents, longtime friends, and common decency (anyone remember how callously and shamelessly he ruined Miriam Santospolitical career so he could save his own?) be damned.

There’s a fine line between a benevolent dictator and  Dick Cheney, and Rich Daley knows exactly where that is.

It’s a safe bet to say that with the possible exception of his wife, no one loves Richard Daley.  A handful of people may have good reason to hate him, but everyone fears Richard Daley. More accurately put, people fear that he has and can use political clout  against them if they don’t line up behind him. That, my dear, is called effective leadership. Perhaps Daley will buy Obama a copy of Machiavelli’s The Prince for Christmas.  Or perhaps Oprah might add Gabriel Garcia Marquez to her book club. We  can put the books on lay away  for him since the city doesn’t have enough money at the moment. (Blame it on Rio.)

As Bill Clinton and George W Bush showed us, we will tolerate, admire even, highly flawed individuals in politics if they know how to fight, fight back and fight dirty even as, or despite that, they cleanse their souls of their inner demons well within public view, whether it’s to compensate for being daddy’s abandoned little lamb or the black sheep of the family.

The racist lunatic fringe of the Republican Party (hard to miss) and drug addicted talk show hosts (hard to miss but hard to imprison?) who rant about deporting immigrants while they run the Hispanic maid, who they forced into being  their drug runner, out of the country so she can’t be found by prosecutors, don’t fear  Obama the man. They fear the effects of the changing racial demographics that will  challenge their social order. No one fears  President Barack Obama.

As Jimmy “lust in my heart” Carter and George “kinder and gentler” Bush proved, we’ve got only so much political tolerance for an ineffectual do gooder. We like leaders willing to get down and dirty. There comes a time when we tire of you running your mouth about your “achey breaky heart” — just ask all those pissed off queens last night at the Human Rights Campaign Fund gala who paid $1000 a person to be patronized–and we want to see you put up a fight.  And win.

All love, most especially political love, is conditional. Put out or get out. Put up or shut up. Just do it.

And as Lady Gaga so aptly  sang to the crowd last night, “baby when it’s love, if it’s not rough it isn’t fun.”

TomKolovos.com

October 9, 2009

Lindsay Lohan wins surprise Nobel Peace Prize as Creative Director of Emanuel Ungaro

tom_kolovos_wordpressnew

Yes she can. Don’t laugh. After today anything is possible. Chic happens. All you need is a vision board.

Stop laughing and compare, side by side, the statements of Mounir Moufarrige, the chief executive of Emanuel Ungaro and Thorbjorn Jagland, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee , as published in The New York Times.

ON MR OBAMA: “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future,” the committee said in its citation. “His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.”

“Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics,” the committee wrote. “Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play.”

ON MS LOHAN: The market for luxury goods has been so bad, he said, that hiring a traditional designer would not make enough of a difference to get people into his stores. With retailers cutting their orders by 30 percent or more this year, there was little chance that Ungaro could survive without getting more attention. He said he did not believe that Ms. Lohan’s history of well-publicized personal problems would get in the way of her job at Ungaro or have a detrimental impact on the brand.

At that moment, his cell phone rang. It was a security guard telling him that Ms. Lohan and her sister, Ali, had gone downstairs into the store to try on some clothes. The store, in fact, was now mobbed.

ON MR OBAMA: Interviewed later in the Nobel Committee’s wood-paneled meeting room, surrounded by photographs of past winners, Mr. Jagland brushed aside concerns expressed by some critics that Mr. Obama remains untested.

“The question we have to ask is who has done the most in the previous year to enhance peace in the world,” Mr. Jagland said. “And who has done more than Barack Obama?”

He compared the selection of Mr. Obama with the award in 1971 to the then West German Chancellor Willy Brandt for his “Ostpolitik” policy of reconciliation with communist eastern Europe.

“Brandt hadn’t achieved much when he got the prize, but a process had started that ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall,” said Mr. Jagland. “The same thing is true of the prize to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990, for launching perestroika. One can say that Barack Obama is trying to change the world, just as those two personalities changed Europe.”

ON MS LOHAN: Ms. Lohan represents a modern version of a fashion muse. She is an actress who is being paid — with a deal reported to be worth millions — to serve as artistic adviser, most unlike the classic image, for example, of Loulou de la Falaise, the dear friend of Saint Laurent and daughter of the model Maxime de la Falaise, who would gently nudge a bow and whisper to the great couturier that it looked chicer that way.

Mr. Moufarrige, during an interview in his office above the Ungaro store on Avenue Montaigne, argued that the controversy could still be good for the brand. He pointed out that he has made controversial hires in the past that ultimately were vindicated, noting that he replaced Karl Lagerfeld with Stella McCartney, the daughter of Paul McCartney, at Chloé in 1997. Though Ms. McCartney’s appointment indeed ruffled feathers among the French design establishment, she did have formal design training and has since gone on to develop a successful signature line.

ON MR OBAMA: “We have to get the world on the right track again,” he said. Without referring specifically to the Bush era, he continued: “Look at the level of confrontation we had just a few years ago. Now we get a man who is not only willing but probably able to open dialogue and strengthen international institutions.”

ON MS LOHAN: Mounir Moufarrige, the chief executive of the company, acknowledged in an interview that the move would likely create waves among French fashion purists, possibly even charges of bad taste, but he argued that the times called for a maneuver he likened to “electric shock treatment.” Sales of the high-end Ungaro collection have dropped substantially since Mr. Ungaro sold his business in 1996, and none of the designers hired to replace him since his retirement five years ago have managed to draw much attention to the label.

“She knows the difference between what looks good, what is not and what is cool,” Mr. Moufarrige said. “Celebrities today attract a lot of attention and having a moving, dancing, swinging, living doll is, we hope, going to bring down the age group at Ungaro while keeping the DNA.”

ON  MR OBAMA: “We are not awarding the prize for what may happen in the future, but for what he has done in the previous year,” Mr. Jagland said. “We would hope this will enhance what he is trying to do.”

ON MS LOHAN: “A designer alone is not enough to get us back where we were, unless I had Tom Ford or Phoebe Philo,” he said. “But there are not many of those, and they are taken.”

“We could spend two or three years with a designer and get a great collection again,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean people will buy it. Everybody’s got a nice collection.” But a celebrity, that’s another story, and one who draws the spotlight just for selling a line of leggings couldn’t do worse. “I looked at several, and they all had the same ingredients,” Mr. Moufarrige said. “If you are a celebrity, you may be controversial and prone to a lot of problems, but you attract a lot of attention.”

So, are you still laughing? I wonder if Kanye West will accompany Ms Lohan to Oslo in December.

TheBestDressedList.com

January 22, 2009

Inaugural Fashion: Beyond the Clothes

tom_kolovos_wordpressnew

The real news about Michelle Obama’s fashion choices for the Inauguration is not, ironically,  in the details you will surely not be able to avoid today but in the larger picture you might have already missed.

As of yesterday, there is a very good case to be made that, amid the rumors about whether Anna Wintour, the uber poweful editrix of Vogue magazine is about to be replaced,  America’s new First Lady is now the de facto most important and powerful  champion of American fashion.

Only fashion insiders keep score of Ms. Wintour’s  conspicuously short list of designers for whom she serves as cheerleader in chief. (Well, okay, those on the longer list for whom she does not cheerlead keep  even closer score.) The average American consumer, and dare I say even but the most attentive of Vogue readers, can’t tell you who curries her favor and who doesn’t. Read Cathy Horyn‘s excellent New York Times piece  “Citizen Anna” if you need to catch up.

By contrast, women all over the country and the world, can tell you not only which designers and brands  Mrs. Obama favors (J CrewWhite House Black Market, Maria Pinto, Narciso RodriguezMaria Cornejo),  but wait with baited breath for whom she will add to her expanding list of favorites. Anna Winour may be an  elite kingmaker behind the scenes, but Michelle Obama is a populist kingmaker who can  make household names out of relatively obscure designers like Maria Pinto and, as she surely did yesterday, with Jason Wu and Isabel Toledo.[picapp src=”c/7/f/0/8c.JPG?adImageId=4876749&imageId=3817303″ width=”500″ height=”612″ /]

But she can also make merchandise  fly out of showrooms and store shelves, in large part because like people of real  contemporary style she is adept at navigating  and mixing high and low pricepoints  with  enviable ease. In the current dismal retail environment, Mrs. Obama’s power is, as Guy Trebay reports, remarkably important, whether you’re courting favor by impressing her with your merchandise at the mall or by knowing Ikram Goldberg, the influential Chicago retailer who  (unofficially but  with glaring  business savvy –and Isabel Toledo and Jason Wu inventory!) has the First Lady’s ear.

This is not to say that all of her  fashion choices are always right. She has made plenty of mistakes but that is to be expected of anyone who goes out of their way to think (or in this case, dress) out of the box. When you take risks, as long as more of your risks pay off big, the risks which dont are easily overshadowed.

As for the clothes she wore yesterday, here’s my take: the  color of the Isabel Toledo ensemble was beautiful and extremely flattering (which is what I think people are responding to when they rave about how good she looked) but apart from that, if you added a handbag and goofy hat, it was essentially a Princess Margaret outfit or a mother of the bride outfit.

The Narciso Rodriguez designed  camel skirt, black silk blouse and black silk lined camel coat she wore to the concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday was the real show stopper of the Inaugural events.

Right down to the belt, earings hair and makeup , I don’t think I have ever  seen her look more chic and sophisticated. (Both designer and client needed to right the wrong of the election night dress in Grant Park and what a more fitting place to do it than in front of Lincoln.  Irony noted. Apology accepted.)

The Jason Wu gown was a clearly a labor of love and craftmanship as it was in naivite. Its color choice certainly brought to mind the inaugural choices of the two chicest First Lady’s of the 2oth century, Jackie Kennedy and Nancy Reagan.[picapp src=”4/5/f/8/7b.JPG?adImageId=4876756&imageId=3666832″ width=”380″ height=”268″ /]

As far as Inaugural ballgowns go, it was one of the best ever, if that can be considered a compliment.  But it  also came dangerously close to looking like a wedding dress. The train made it visibly awkward to dance in, and even a casual viewer of Project Runway would easily and gleefully point out that is not a minor flaw in a ball gown.  Finally, I’m not convinced that a column dress of such volume  was the most flattering choice for her figure.

That said, the good news is really that this is only the beginning of her look for formal events on the international stage and it was impressive enough. She’s  already proven that she can engage both the public and the design world with her choices. I hear they both send  their best wishes for a picture perfect marriage of style and politics.

TheBestDressedLIst.com

November 11, 2008

Azuca’ pa’ tu amargura

Live long enough–or hear the theme song of “The Facts of Life” often enough– and you eventually learn “you take the the good/you take the bad/and there you have the facts of life.” Yes, more than 70% of the gay vote went to Barack Obama–more than went to Clinton or Kerry–and yes, 70% of our black brothers and sisters in California voted to deny gay men and women the fundamental civil right to marry.

Quite honestly, it’s been a bittersweet week for me.  While I fully share the abundant joy of the historical moment with my black brothers and sisters as we finally bore witness in Grant Park to Martin Luther King’s dream, 70% of the black voters in California embraced the nightmare logic of this country’s miscegenation laws that would have made the marriage of Barack Obama’s mother and father illegal in America and just applied it to gay people.

Thanks. Does Hallmark make a card for that?

Early in June of 2002, I found out that the Cuban singer Albita was going to play at Ravinia so I called a good friend of mine, who happens to be Nigerian, and told hershe simply had to go to the concert with me. I had seen Albita  perform two years earlier at RFK Stadium at the concert for gay rights which coincided with the March on Washington. Though much bigger names played that night–Melissa Etheridge, Chaka Khan, Garth Brooks, George Michael among them–Albita who came on early in the night simply blew me away with an amazing voice and an infectious Afro-Cuban sound. I came back to Chicago and immediately bought her CD “Son.” If it were vinyl, I would have surely worn it out in the first week.

Please, I implored my friend, come with me to hear this woman. “Ok, I’ll make you a deal,” she said. “I’ll go if you come with me to the Miriam Makeba concert later this month.”

Um. Sure. And who is Miriam Makeba? When is the concert? Wait a minute, the tickets I have for June 19 have some woman named Miriam as the opening act? It’s this Makeba person!

Amazed at the coincidence, I listened as she explained about “Mama Africa,” and why I had better get my skinny white behind to Ravinia even if Albita weren’t on the bill.

So we went to Ravinia together, curious about what we would each discover and just to make matters even more interesting we dragged along a mutual friend who had heard of neither woman.

Needless to say, it was a magical night of music. We went to see a concert but Albita and Miriam put on a celebration of life. Despite the fact that most of the songs were in languages we surely didn’t fully understand,  there was no mistaking the universal language of joy, heartache and exile in their music and in their voices. We all walked away that night not as people of different races, genders and sexual orientations but as celebrants of a common, and yes, a sometimes deeply flawed, humanity. I was deeply saddened to hear that the truly amazing “Mama Africa” died this week. But despite the sadness, I was able to find solace in the hope, fearlessness and tenacity of a life lived by example and against injustice.

Her struggle makes mine a little more bearable today. As Albita sang on that magical night, “Azuca’ pa’ tu amargura,” Tom.

Sugar for your bitterness, Tom. 

tomkolovos.com

September 30, 2008

Sarah, Plain and Tall(tale)

With my apologies to Patricia MacLachlan, let me tell you a tale about loneliness and abandonment.

John, a “maverick” who, in 8 years of political marriage to his party’s president voted for 90% of the president’s legislative agenda, finds himself saddened by his chances to successfully distance himself from the selfsame disasterous economic and military agenda he voted for so he can now become President himself.

Somewhere in one of his eight homes, he is also saddened that his opponent, an elitist African American upstart half his age and who was raised by a single mother on food stamps, picked a champion of the working class and expert on foreign affairs as his vice presidential candidate.

Even his couture clad, brewing-fortune heiress wife is unable to console him from his public admission that he knows very little about economic matters, which suddenly matter very much to the voters.

Clearly unable to to handle the the burden himself, he decides to put out feelers for an upstart half his age of his very own to put on the presidential ticket.

He asks a few buddies, perhaps some randy buddies, and they tell him that putting a woman on the ticket would show the other side that he meant fundamentally sound business.

So they look around for a political bride.

They find a really good one in Maine, but decide that she isn’t young enough or much of an upstart, so they send her packing.

Suddenly, as if she were a credit card sent through the mail without a FICO credit check, someone pops up on their radar. Her name is Sarah.

She is from Alaska and she is eager, really eager and more than willing to travel down to the lower 48 to take the job immediately. The randy friends like that she was a former beauty pageant contestant and although she is married with children and a potential future ex son in law, it means that she has plenty of practice in the interview portion of her pageants to give confusing, nonsensical answers to difficult questions, and such as.

She seems like the kind of gal that can really read the heck out of an electrifying speech, which some friend of John’s could write and pepper with truthiness. No need to bother the FBI to do a background check.

Just as John had hoped, his plan succeeds beautifully. Within hours of the political marriage, they manage to steal the political thunder from their elitist community organizing upstart opponent. Everyone is talking about Sarah!

Oh, and how much does Sarah like talking about her Alaska homeland which she misses very much. To relieve her homesickness, she paints beautiful, fanciful pictures with words about her life there and the shores of Alaska and their proximity to a far away land called Russia. She even talks about the strategic proximity of her homeland to the exotic land of Canada.

But after a severe economic crisis threatens to force the entire world to party like it’s 1929, John is afraid they may lose the election and he may be forced to sell the entire country to China.

When Sarah leaves to go to the United Nations and on national television with Katie Couric to talk more about Alaska, John panics. Fearing Sarah may not survive the return trip, he declares that he will suspend his campaign and cancel the scheduled debate with his upstart opponent to go to Wahington to help fix the economic meltdown that a week earlier he had declared didn’t exist.

In his haste to get to Washington, he forgets to close down any of his campaign offices or stop running any of his campaign ads on television. He also forgets his haste, since, having cancelled an interview with David Letterman because he has suspended his campaign, he goes to Katie Couric’s CBS office instead, where it turns out he decides to be interviewed. David Letterman feels lonely and abandoned..

In the end, John’s fears are well founded. Sarah does not survive the return trip. Actually, she is politely asked not to return, abandoned really, by one of her most influential admirers at the National Review. She’s had enough of Sarah’s tall tales. She admonishes that “if BS were currency, Sarah… could bail out Wall Street herself.”

Sarah is now working on learning to print currency, and in her spare time, cold fusion. (It’s cold in Alaska and her parents say there’s nothing that their daughter can’t do.) She plans to report on her results this Thursday nite.


TomKolovos.com