Saturday, March 18, 2006

Star recognition

Pretty Lady doesn't see too many currently acknowleged stars in her daily runabout, really. Once she ran into Drew Barrymore in an elevator at the Whitney; she experienced a strange disconnected feeling, as though she were being rude, but could not remember why. "I know that person," she thought to herself. "But there's some reason I should not say hello. What could it be? Did we have a fight? Is she mad at me?"

Sweet Drew never stays mad at anybody, I am sure. A friend of Pretty Lady's once worked as a gaffer on one of Drew's movie sets; she introduced herself to everyone in the vicinity. "Hi, I'm Drew," she would say. "We're making a movie."

That, my dears, is Class.

However I have gone astray. As I mentioned, I do not run into current stars; I discover future ones. This evening I went to hear one.

This star, Tara in fact, is the former roommate of my best friend. During the entire time my best friend was rooming with her, I knew her only as that messed-up girl who did not pay the bills. Seriously, she didn't seem to know how to pay bills. My friend would give her some money, and a week later the phone would be cut off. If she was given a deposit from a sub-letter, she would spend the entire amount on beer. She was like a child; a damaged, clueless, helpless child. I do not know how my best friend put up with her. In fact I do not know how Tara survived, from day to day, at all. Her time appeared to be spent in noodling with electronic keyboards, drinking heavily, coughing, and rearranging her toys. Literally, her toys. The living room was full of them.

My friend, though, is not quite of this earth. She has always been spiritual and more than a little ascetic; I have known her to camp for years in a room the size of a broom closet, with almost no possessions, and hostile relatives of men she was dating, living right next door. Last year she left New York perhaps forever, to become enlightened at an Academy in Wisconsin. I miss her sorely, but it is best for her, the radiant sprite. I certainly never thought to see her roommate again.

Then lo, I wandered into a club one evening, to hear my neighbor Henry sing. Henry was passable--competent and adequate, as was his friend Roger, the dear boy. I sat at the bar and nattered with Roger's actress friend, and it was all very neighborly. Then Tara took the mike.

I had a college professor who heard Janis Joplin sing, in a high-school auditorium, sometime long before nineteen-sixty-seven. The professor said of the experience, "This plain, mousy looking woman in a peasant skirt walked onto the stage with a guitar. Then she opened her mouth."

Friends, it was like that. I cannot possibly describe it. Tara opened her mouth.

You can't leave me, I'm unsteady
I'm lovin', lovin, lovin', lovin' life...
Oh. My. God. The damage, the smoke, the coughing child, all were part of it; it was as though the muse were burning off the tar at the bottom of her lungs, and the orphan in her soul. Her voice echoed off the rafters like Jesse Jackson giving a speech in the West Mall. It thrummed up and down the spine with the pathos of a thousand ruined lifetimes. She was an order of magnitude Other than her sweet friends and supporters, Roger and Henry.

I sought her out after the show, of course. "You are truly gifted," I told her. She seemed surprised. I do not think she knows it.

It is quite likely that none of you will hear of Tara from the mainstream media; I give her an 80% chance of rapid self-destruction, and an only 20% chance of rapid public self-destruction, a lá Janis. But this evening my neighbor Henry invited me again, and oh, did I go along. While Tara was singing, there were some young girls sitting alongside of me, chattering and giggling. After a withering glance or two went unheeded, I approached them; indeed, I approached toweringly, and touched them upon the knees.

"Girls, you need to know that this is probably one of the most talented artists you will ever get to hear, live," I said. "You need to shut up."

They quailed. I listened in peace.

12 comments:

Morgan said...

Great story. Why is it that some of the most gifted people are the most non-functional in other aspects of their life. There must be some disorder linked to creative genius. I've known some talented writers who were absolute wrecks in their personal life, but in their art they were perfect.

Mr. Nelson said...

Nobody gets it all. Everyone's flawed and often times what we're best at exposes our worst. The best in my former industry couldn't keep their mouths shut, while the worst could (only because they never had anything to say) and were often rewarded for that skill with all the management positions/promotions. The result was very solid mediocraty, although the visions statements were excellent.

The level of exposure in our culture is amazing. Tara's every quirk will be probed if she's successful at all. If poor Tara is in her cups during an interview and says something mildly off color-incorrect, the media hammers will come out and Tara's downward spiral to go ever faster. Hopefully she'll find someone to protect her who doesn't take advantage of her.

farmer Tom said...

"You need to shut up."


You are indeed a lady. I'm afraid my response would have involved the use of a dope slap. Followed by STHU at a rather high volume.

prettylady said...

There must be some disorder linked to creative genius.

I do not know at all. All I know is that all of the most artistically talented people I have ever known have been unable to carry on a basic human conversation with any degree of success. It baffles. I would certainly never want to be married to one of them.

The best in my former industry couldn't keep their mouths shut,

That would be moi. I am known for my lack of discretion, particularly on subways and at schmoozy parties.

You are indeed a lady.

Gracious, I am afraid I must be. This was the strongest language I can remember using, publically, except in jest, since my undergraduate days.

Morgan said...

"You are indeed a lady. I'm afraid my response would have involved the use of a dope slap. Followed by STHU at a rather high volume."

FT, I find myself seized by a similar disposition in movie theatres. It seems like every time the husband spirits me away for dinner in a movie, we invariably end up a row behind Badly Raised Teens who think nothing of talking both to themselves *and* yelling suggestions to the characters on the screen.
The last time this happened, I tapped one on the shoulder and told them that this was my first night out in weeks, that I had to get away from the children because if I didn't I'd snap and Do Something Horrible and that if they persisted on acting like my kids I might do the Horrible Something to them. They moved. My husband started laughing but stopped when the guy behind us tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to please hush.

Morgan said...

I consider myself creative, although I don't know if I'd claim that creativity rises to the level of art.

I do know that I am easily distracted and have so many interests that sometimes I start my day in a panic because there's so much I want to dive into I don't know where to start.

On good days I get a *lot* accomplished and am really proud of myself. On bad days I spend so much time figuring out what it is I want to do that before I know it the day is spent and I've done nothing of significance. Then I feel like a total loser.

Shrubbery said...

Why do you refer to yourself in the third person? 'Tis a skoch pretentious don't you think.

prettylady said...

Darling, pretension is my middle name. Plus there are three of us in here--moi, thou, and the ineffable Her. I try to be as accurate and specific as possible, in my pronoun use.

jackadandy said...

Shrub, as someone who occasionally indulges in the same conceit myself may I just point out that speaking of oneself in the third person provides lush opportunity to take potshots at oneself from virtually unlimited vantage points?

You should try it yourself, really!

Jack the Dandy

Shrubbery said...

I understand the need for self-deprication and indentifying the various facets of one's self but the third person smacks of those self-indulgent professional athletes and actors that most people detest. The Shrub hath spoken.

Morgan said...

Shrub, lighten up. Watching you take yourself so seriously makes my eyes hurt.

Morris said...

Shrub, I hardly think it's pretentious.
It's just good style..