This weekend I went to a gallery reception to see my friend Verna Todd's new photographs. Verna's work showcases the simple beauty of objects like hosta leaves, feathers and found writing, closely examined with her macro lens. I was lucky enough to be gifted this beauty of hers from my parents; my mom said it reminded her of Black Swan, so I had to have it. See more of Verna's amazing work here.
My latest streaming-on-Netflix obsession is Tony Richardson's 1966 film Mademoiselle. It concerns a schoolmarm, played by Jeanne Moreau, who descends on an idyllic French countryside town like Satan on Job: she starts floods, destroys bird nests and lights fires, making sure to smooth her skirt and clean her stilettos along the way. While many find the film vile, I think it is a twisted little treasure, mostly for the gorgeous widescreen noir cinematography that frames Moreau's madly repressed protagonist. It provided a good antidote to the saccharine stories that dominate our toddler-controlled telly, anyway.
One day in 2003 a vinyl collector was sorting through some records at a flea market and noticed a collection of unplayable cardboard discs with amazingly intricate, hand-drawn covers. These soul and funk "records" were by unheard-of artists like Audio Andre, Rambling Ralph, The Outsiders and Mingering Mike. Many were shrink-wrapped with prices attached, but all were handmade with scrap cardboard and felt pens. Turns out these were all artifacts of the fantasy life of one African-American man in Washington, D.C. from the 60s and 70s. His daydream alter-ego was Mingering Mike, a famous soul singer so influential he nurtured the careers of many other artists, whose cover art he also imagined. Mingering Mike wrote over 4,000 songs, including film soundtracks, comedic song albums ("Boogie Down at the White House," featuring "the likenesses of Richard Nixon, Frank Sinatra" and others) and an album tribute to Bruce Lee. Mike doesn't like to reveal his real name, but his vinyl creations have been exhibited and apparently the film rights to his life have been optioned. Read more about this fantasy soul superstar here.