Prince

A Graffiti Bridge to Nowhere

It has been seven hours and way too many days since Jehovah’s sexiest witness left us with a major case of the sads. The world is a whole lot less interesting, Minnesota in particular, because now all we have left are 10,000 lakes any of which I would gladly give up if we could get the little guy back. (Not Lake Minnetonka though, we gotta keep that one for obvious reasons.) Prince was of course much more than just a genius musician he was also a bonafide MOVIE STAR. At one point in 1984 he had not only the number one album (Purple Rain), but the single and movie to go along with it. Like everyone else on the planet in 1984 with a heartbeat, five bucks and a driver’s license I saw Purple Rain at the time but had not seen it all the way through since. So in honor of the late, great Purple Yoda I decided to go on a Prince-a-thon to revisit and recap his cinematic career from best to well, let’s just be kind and say less best.

1.) Purple Rain: I loved this when it came out. I loved it because it was filmed at the club where I spent my formative years (thanks to a real fake ID), it starred the most famous music dude in town and the songs were amaze-balls. I am pretty sure that even with the purple-tinted sunglasses (Oakley of course) I had on at the time I knew it wasn’t exactly a Casablanca or Segei Eisenstein’s Potemkin level of celluloid greatness before me (I was a film minor FFS) but I did not care then or now. The electrifying musical performances more than made up for any of the gaping plot holes, the ridiculous amount of misogyny and the fact that Steve McClellan was somehow no longer the manager of First Avenue but had been replaced by some guy from Detroit named Billy. Whatever Prince. (iTunes, and some theaters)

 

2.) Under the Cherry Moon:  I did not see this movie when it came out and sadly I was not alone in my indifference. UTCM was both a commercial and critical flop, winning a whopping five Golden Raspberry Awards and beating out the completely ridiculous Howard the Duck for worst movie of 1986. (Interestingly enough that movie also starred a Minnesotan, Lea Thompson.) But now that I have seen it twice I can honestly say those golden raspberries were completely undeserved and I am not alone in that assessment.

Prince and The Time’s mirror man Jerome Benton play cousins who spend their days and nights on the French Riviera scamming rich ladies trying to earn enough dough to get back to Miami. Kristin Scott Thomas (in her film debut) plays their latest and richest mark yet who is proving to be a bit more of a challenge than their usual suspects. Originally shot in color, it was switched to black and white prior to its release which was a great call  because UTCM is drop-dead gorgeous to look at.

Prince dances, prances and lays the doe eyes on extra thick but he and Benton have great on-screen chemistry and their silly screwball routine about going to the wecka stow is classic. Between the clothes (Chanel, pre-Kunty Karl), the scenery (Nice) and the songs (Kiss, Sometimes it Snows in April, Mountains),  UTCM is more than worth spending three bucks and some of your extra time on. (iTunes, Amazon)

 

3.) Graffiti Bridge: I am not gonna lie, Graffiti Bridge is pretty bad. So bad that I was regretting not having my iPad with me so I could surf the web during the dull parts and there were lots of dull parts. Ostensibly a sequel to Purple Rain it has absolutely none of the charm, hit songs or performance magic of its predecessor. According to the plot line, fake First Avenue owner/manager Billy has gone to the great nightclub in the sky and left another club called Glam Slam (also RIP) to the Kid (Prince) and Morris Day. I do not know who got First Avenue (Apollonia, perhaps?) or how Glam Slam got moved to Seven Corners (WTF?) but at least fake dead Billy had a will. Just let that one sink in for a minute.

Even though money-grubbing Morris allegedly owns half of Glam Slam he somehow wants to destroy it which makes no sense but neither does this movie so there you go. I think Prince hit peak Prince-ness with Graffiti Bridge (he wrote, directed and starred) but seemed utterly bored by the entire process. Mostly shot on a sound stage at Paisley Park his ennui shines through loud and clear. It’s a bloody mess but it could have been much, much worse. According to one-time Prince dancer extraordinaire Cat Glover, Madonna was supposed to play the Angel role that ultimately went to Ingrid Chavez. Watch it if only to say that you have seen it and then go rewatch Purple Rain any of the awesome performances that have cropped up on YouTube while you can. (iTunes, Amazon)

 

4.) New Girl Prince episode: Here is your chance to see Prince show Zoey Deschanel just how adorkable is done. I probably should rate this television appearance above Graffiti Bridge but New Girl is only 20 plus minutes long minus commercials and Prince is not in all the scenes so demerits must be given. On the plus side you hear a snippet of one of my all-time-favorite Prince songs When You Were Mine, there are pancakes involved and he made the producers remove all traces of a certain reality show family that were set to appear. Prince was the sensei of shade and man am I going to miss his not-at-all-subtle ways with the side-eye. (Season 3, episode 14, Netflix)

 

If you still need more Prince in your life (and who doesn’t?), check out this fantastic podcast with André Cymon. Recorded a couple of years back after Cymon released his first album in about a hundred years this interview offers great insight into the makings of the Minneapolis sound.. Cymon and Prince were childhood friends and lived together for years after Prince moved in with Cymon’s family. André was also Prince’s bassist during the pre-Revolution days and was known for his uncanny ability to pull off wearing clear pants and not looking like a total try-hard twat. He recorded a few albums in the 80’s but then went on to became more known as a songwriter and producer. Cymon is a great story teller and you won’t be bored for an instant which is good because this podcast clocks in at over two hours, something I wish I’d known when I started listening at 11:30 on a school night.

http://podcastjuice.net/the-prince-podcast-andre-cymone/

 

 

 

Purple Reignia

Minnesota, the land of 10,000 Prince stories. Pretty much everyone has one, including me. The last few days have been harder than I ever could have imagined and yet oddly comforting. The shock of his loss is palpable and everywhere but the outpouring of grief has been offset at least a little bit by the many public memorials, street concerts and all night dance parties that have happened across the city in his honor without any incidents because we’re classy like that up here in the north country. Forget Kevin Bacon and his six degrees of separation. No one in the Twin Cities has to go any further than two degrees of Prince separation. Everyone knows someone who either had an encounter with Prince at the state fair eating Tiny Tim donuts, or was in one of his many bands (two peeps from my high school for sure), or was an extra in Purple Rain (I’m just saying, if everybody who said they were in this movie really were than the credit list would be twice as long).

Unlike Dylan, the Coen Brothers or just about anyone else with an iota of fame, Prince never left us and for that he earned our eternal love and respect. He was a Minnesotan through and through. He went to sporting events (he loved the Minnesota Lynx), showed up at clubs (he had a permanently reserved table at the Dakota) and rode his bike around his Chanhassen neighborhood as if he were just a regular guy who worked at Target or Best Buy corporate. There was no drama with this one and there certainly could have been because he was a mega-genius wrapped up in a neat little pixie package.

The mid-to-late 80’s was a magical time to live in Minneapolis and be into the local music scene. Bands like the Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Walt Mink, Trip Shakespeare and Soul Asylum meant you could go out just about any night and not regret the loss of sleep (well maybe once or twice if the ‘Mats were having an off night). Thanks to Prince, Alexander O’Neal, The Time and the Flyte Time crew, the Minneapolis sound was getting huge and gaining world-wide attention. Then Purple Rain came out and suddenly we were cooler-than-cool, and not in the expected winter-weather kind of way. Prince put our city, First Avenue and the mind-boggling purification benefits of Lake Minnetonka on the map and for that we are forever grateful.

There are and were many reasons to love Prince. He was an icon musically and sexually for a generation that needed some guidance during the just say no years. He spoke out about HIV/AIDS when the president at the time could not even acknowledge its existence. He could wear a puffy shirt like nobody’s business and didn’t mind a little black lace or shoulder pads, mainstays of 80’s fashion mostly reserved for Limited Express shoppers. I love the fact that Prince was a devoted Joni Mitchell fan and I especially love the fact that he wrote Purple Rain the ballad, as a direct response to the in-concert popularity of Bob Segar’s We’ve Got The Night. With a 1% African-American population in Minneapolis when he was growing up Prince had to find his inspiration somewhere and it certainly wasn’t going to be by watching Soul Train since the market was too small for it to even air here.

I had many Prince sightings throughout my formative years, usually at First Avenue where he was either tucked behind the glass of the VIP section or blocked by burly bodyguards. One time I saw him as he was coming up the stairs and I was coming down. There was no one else around and I could feel myself holding back from wanting to say something lest I blew my whole “we’re cool” persona. When we both stopped on the same step I realized that I was finally taller than someone in Minnesota and that someone was Prince. We both had on heels but his were much taller than mine. I was doing my happy dance on the inside when our eyes locked and he gave me that sly, pants-meltingly sexy smile he had. Let me tell you Prince was HOT up close, scorching really. I about died right then and there and hadn’t even been to a high school reunion yet. I lived and would run into him occasionally after that, usually at the grocery store, but we would never have meaningful eye contact again. Thanks to a job I had at the time I was lucky enough to be invited to the grand opening of Paisley Park and that is one piece of direct mail I will never, ever recycle.

Sometimes unfortunately it does snow in April in Minnesota and sometimes, just like Joni Mitchell said, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Prince’s charitable donations were many and not widely publicized, partly because of his faith and partly because he was not that kind of guy. There are people with solar power in Northern California thanks to him and a charter school in Minneapolis would not exist without his financial support. He bankrolled school music programs across the country and probably bought more boxes of Girl Scout cookies than you or I could ever imagine (hey, it very well could be true). The Carver County sheriff said it best at the press conference last Friday. To the rest of the world he was a celebrity but to us he was a neighbor and a friend, and we will miss that friend terribly.

Stream the night away–in a posh hotel

Sometimes after a long, hard day of advertising (and they happen way more often than Melrose Place ever led me to believe), I just want to come home and watch something that requires no complicated thinking or thought processing whatsoever on my part. Mindless escapism with a sense of style is what I am looking for and luckily Netflix comes through for me with plenty of options every time. (A show like Mad Men, while entertaining to some, is just too close to reality for me despite it taking place in the 60’s, although no one has ever been run over by a lawnmower or killed themselves at any of the agencies I have worked at, even if they considered it for a quick minute.)

One of my dream jobs has always been to work at a super chic luxury hotel. The type of hotel that caters to heads of state from places with so many consonants in their names I can’t spell them let alone pronounce them properly and twenty-something internet billionaires. In order to do this I would definitely need to step up my sartorial game though as it has become far too lazy from working in the agency world forever where pretty much anything goes wardrobe-wise and my preference for over-priced casual wear has gotten out of hand. For this job I will need to dress exclusively in Prada (Chanel would be just too casual, sorry Karl!), rock a cat-eye like Kate Moss and get a much more professional hairdo, a super sleek blunt-cut bob so awesome even Anna Wintour herself would be jealous of it. Everyone else at the hotel will be simultaneously jealous and impressed by my ability to do the seemingly impossible such as finding discreet high-class escorts (male or female) at the drop of a hat, while securing tables at the hottest new restaurants and scoring tickets to those impossible to get sold-out Broadway shows. Did I mention I will need to relocate as well as get a new wardrobe and haircut for this job?

That bob will be mine, minus the bangs. I have spent a year growing those suckers out!

That bob will be mine, minus the bangs. I have spent a year growing those suckers out!

Hotel Babylon: actually this might even be an even better location than NYC for my fantasy job as this show is set in London, my favoritest city on Earth. Hotel Babylon is based on a book that I have never read by Imogen Edwards-Jones (hyphenated names = posh in the UK) and ran on the BBC for four seasons. For the first two seasons the hotel is run by a tough as nails career woman with a bad marriage (natch) named Rebecca Mitchell (Tamzin Outhwaite in real life, forever Melanie Owen from EastEnders* to me). The other various hotel employees all have their own personal baggage (pun intended) and include a stereotypical catty gay guy receptionist named Ben, another receptionist Anna Thornton-Wilton whose fake hyphenated name is as fake as her accent, Rebecca’s right hand man with a secret criminal past Charlie, and Tony the jaded but ever so efficient concierge. I am pretty sure Tony has my dream job, but not my dream outfit since he wears a uniform and that is a big fat NO in my book, unless it’s Prada, and even then I would have to think about it.

Why hello Mr.Nelson, come on in.

Why hello sir, come on in.

Hotel Babylon is like a modern, much more stylish version of The Love Boat, with new guests and new stories for each episode. Most of the guest stars I wouldn’t recognize if they came to my front door trying to get me to read the Watchtower. Sadly this happens kinda regularly with a Kingdom Hall for Jehovah’s Witnesses down the road. A congregation Mr. Prince Rogers Nelson himself is rumored to be a member of and while I might open the door for him I still would not read the Watchtower. Not ever. And while I might not know these guest stars faces their names are certainly familiar because I do read the Daily Mail every day (I know it’s bad but it’s fun bad) and I always think to myself, who ARE these people? And then there they are, in the Daily Mail! This show is trashy good fun (just like the Daily Mail) with a posh British accent (definitely NOT like the Daily Mail). Amazon Instant** since Netflix must have lost the rights to this one back in July when Outrageous Fortune disappeared and my life changed forever because of it.

Grand Hotel: lots of critics and regular people like to compare this to Downton Abbey but I think that is a a major diss because this series from Spain is way more fun. While there is the same sort of Upstairs/Downstairs vibe going on and it takes place in roughly the same time period, the romance between the rich girl whose family owns the hotel, Alicia Alarcon, and Julio Olmedo/Espinosa/Molins (he has a lot of aliases), the waiter, is the centerpiece of this series rather than a side note like the relationship between Downton’s Lady Sybil (poor dead Sybil) and Branson her chauffeur turned husband turned widower. Mama Alarcon and her evil henchman Don Diego will do ANYTHING to hold onto the Grand Hotel, they are kind of a lot like the Borgias in that way. Add in some craziness that would not be out-of-place on a daytime soap like a faked pregnancy (hello Beyoncé!), some baby swapping, illegitimate children crawling out of the woodwork, a serial killer and a bromance rivaling that of Joey and Chandler from Friends between Julio and fellow waiter Andreas, and this show kicks Downton’s proverbial British ass.

The Grand Hotel even has some real people show up as guests like Agatha Christie (who also shows up in an episode of Doctor Who, but that episode features giant bee people and is even too weird for me and I am a fan), as well as Harry Houdini who even performs one of his daring escapes. Interestingly enough, everyone who works or lives at this hotel seems to have above average hearing abilities, like whatever the ear equivalent of 20/20 eyesight is these people have it and thankfully they use their super human abilities at every opportunity in hallways and doorways all over the place or else we would never know what was going on.

After watching all 42 of the episodes available on Netflix I have now picked up some basic Spanish beyond counting to ten and writing no basura on my recycling box at work so the cleaning staff does not throw it away. All that valuable second language knowledge is going to go to waste real soon if Netflix does not get the remaining episodes like yesterday. Not to mention that season three ended with an explosive cliff hanger and I need to know what happened por favor!!

* Pretty much every actor in the UK has either been on Doctor Who or EastEnders or both. It must be some sort of a rite of passage like a spiral perm or a goth phase, not that I ever experienced either of those. Well, maybe just the one.

**good news people, apparently my Netflix search skills suck because guess what showed up as a recommend show for me, on Netflix? Why Hotel Babylon of course!

 

Questions I really want the answers to

Where is that plane?  Seriously. It has been almost five months since Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 went missing with 239 passengers and crew. For the first few days after the disappearance you could understand the confusion but as the various theories were explored and disproved,  and the days turned to weeks,  which then turned to months,  the disappearance and lack of answers morphed into the absurd. And when The New York Times ran a story this past week that said we could all be geographically tracked by the cat photos we post on the internet, it becomes even harder to understand how the largest commercial jet in the world could completely disappear without a trace. My heart really breaks for all those families waiting to find out what happened to their loved ones. The next time I fly I am totally not turning off my phone. (true life confession:  I flew at least a couple of times after I got my first iPhone without turning it off because I was doing it wrong.)

not really my cat

Oh no!! Now The New York Times knows where I live.

Does Steve Nicks ever wear jeans? I mean she has been famous for like a eleventy billion years yet I don’t think she has ever been seen in public without her never-ending supply of fortune-teller lady skirts. In fact, I wonder if she even owns a pair of pants? What does she wear to Target when she has to go buy mundane things like paper towel, Advil and kitty litter?  Just imagine how hard it would be to ride a bike without all those scarf-y things getting stuck in the spokes, and how super dangerous it would be to go to a bonfire on the beach when one swift breeze could set your entire nether regions ablaze? And now that I think of it, I don’t think our hometown fashionista himself Mr. Prince has ever been seen in denim either. Probably not even at the Minnesota State Fair or while making pancakes.

 

 

Why are there pimentos in green olives? Back in the olde (intentional typo) days when I was a kid, I thought those slimy red things in the middle of olives were just the pits before they ripened and turned into black olives. No judging, it was a simpler time, well before we had a Whole Foods in practically every town and fancy olive bars in most grocery stores. It still is beyond my comprehension WHY anyone at the olive factory ever thought that pimentos in olives was a good idea because it is not. In fact, it is repulsive. On the other hand, blue cheese or manchego or even garlic in olives is an excellent idea and lovely.

Who is the father of January Jones’s son?  Of course this is really nobody’s business except the parties involved  but this is a stone-cold Hollywood gossip mystery of which there are few remaining in this age of show and tell everything. There are plenty of suspects: Bobby Flay (you would think the child would be a ginger, but you never know?), Jason Sudeikis (he has daddy abandonment issues, so it doesn’t seem like he would repeat that history), Matthew Vaughn (the director married to poor Claudia Schiffer with his own father Robert Vaughn, the man who U.N.C.L.E himself, denying his paternity ), and Michael Fassbender (Fassy, no! I refuse to believe it). Why there has not been this much speculation on who’s the daddy since Hester Prynne had a baby without a noticeable husband in the Scarlet Letter.

How come this cat looks so guilty? And why don’t my cats ever look or feel guilty doing much worse things than opening a drawer and finding perhaps just a little too much comfort in a piece of tulle?