Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Finally.

Bearkfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote’s novel was first published in 1958, to be made into way more popular movie in 1961 starring Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly.

Little is known that the novel was initially written to have Marilyn Monroe play the leading role, charming, witty and fashionable Holly Golightly who knew very well that nothing bad ever happens at Tiffany’s. When Audrey was cast, Truman Capote remarked:

“Paramount double-crossed me in every way and cast Audrey.”

In the movie opening scene, our heroine arrives at Tiffany & Co. flagship store on Fifth Avenue at – supposedly – the crack of dawn wearing a black ball gown with matching gloves, fancy oversized sunglasses and pearls. Carrying a small white paper bag she walks up to one of the windows displaying jewelry and, not taking her eyes off the diamonds, she bites into her breakfast: merely a croissant and coffee, while Moon River, composed for this movie particularly, plays in the background, luring us into the dream-like atmosphere of a day in life about to begin, the atmosphere that has become a New York City legend.

Maybe it’s what Holly once said:

“I want to still be me when I wake up one fine morning and have breakfast at Tiffany´s.”,

or maybe not, but fast forward sixty years, and you can, actually, have breakfast at Tiffany’s. Or, maybe you can’t – according to reviews describing insanely long and time-consuming lines and embarrassingly poor food quality albeit top-notch service, but one thing is for sure: New York City legend has reinvented itself to become closer to everyone.

Regardless whether you associate Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Deep Blue Something single, or with classic Moon River, I suggest you give not only the movie, but also the novel – also adapted to a brilliant radio drama – a shot… and if you are like me, once the buzz quiets down, try the breakfast as well.

Because…

“nothing very bad could happen to you there”

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Bob Dylan: Only a Song and Dance Man

Getting the Nobel Prize for Literature, our all time folk and country blues author Bob Dylan comes to media focus again: something he probably hates the most about fame that has surrounded his art from the early days. Yet, he always had his funny ways of avoiding being the entertainment for the masses, and that might be the reason the masses followed him, as he has been and remained interesting throughout his entire fruitful career.

He sums it up perfectly in an 1986 interview which is a part of a BBC ‘Omnibus’ documentary called ‘Getting to Dylan‘ released in 1987:

I don’t play that game.

And you wouldn’t either if you were in my shoes.

Indeed, from early interviews it was obvious, almost tangible, how he hated the press – as if he were interrogated and was hence avoiding giving answers, concealing his intimacy behind jokes. Because that is what art is – intimacy, and intimacy is difficult to be kept within chains of fame.

People treat famous people all the same. Doesn’t matter what the person’s famous for: you could be famous for shooting a president or something, you know what I mean – you’re still famous, it puts your picture across on all the newspaper; you’re famous for something: maybe you’re a famous fashion designer, or famous movie star or famous Wall street executive but you’re still on your degree of fame. You know, you’re just famous and people… people react to famous people. So, if you talk to famous people (I guess I am one ’cause I have a certain degree, you know, variety of fame) everybody just kinda’ copes with it a different way, but nobody really seems to think it’s what they went after. A lot of people go after fame and money, but they are really after money, they don’t really want the fame, you know, ’cause the fame is… You know, to walk down the street and go somewhere and have people (sic), so, when you look through the window… say, you’re passing a little pub or a little inn and you look through a window and you see all the people eating and talking and carrying on… you can watch outside the window and you can see them all being very real with each other… As real as they’re gonna be, because when you walk into the room it’s over. You won’t see them being real anymore. (…) Me… and even when you’re in the room you’ll notice the things have changed. Things have changed just because the person who walks into the room who can be a focus point to everybody. I don’t know, maybe that’s got something to do with it, I really can’t say… I don’t really… I don’t pay any attention to it. (…) I just don’t.

 

In later interviews he claims it was all destined, all his art and fame that comes with it, and he provides an uncanny definition of ‘destiny’.

It’s a feeling you have that you know something about yourself that nobody else does, the picture you have in your mind on what you’re about will come true. It’s kinda’ thing you kinda’ have to keep to your own self because it’s a fragile feeling and if you put it out there somebody will kill it so… it’s best to keep it all inside.

 

… And he kinda’ did.

And, with all his despise for fame, let us not forget that back in 1962 when he was 20, in his first appearance on the Folksingers Choice radio show in an interview with Cynthia Gooding originally aired on WBAI FM in New York City, he innocently stated:

Oh, I’m never going to become rich and famous.

 

I’m so glad you were wrong with this one.

 

 

Love Gina Wings

 

 

The Shocking Truth About Beauty

 

‘The idea that beauty is unimportant is the real beauty myth.’Nancy Etcoff

Egypt

Queen Nefertiti, Ancient Egypt, ca.1370 – ca. 1330 BC

Beauty is something very personal that you sense and respond to on a deep level. It’s hard to define, but when you see it, you feel it very strongly and are moved by it. The beauty I love is in people who look real. A beauty that is pure, natural and not glamorized.’Calvin Klein

Well, thank you, Mr. Klein, for this inspiring saying which seemingly opposes everything we know. Isn’t is funny, really, that today more than ever images of fabricated beauty are forced upon us. With all the filters and airbrushing and perfect lightning how can we even know what a real human being, and not woman only, actually looks like? The standards are cruel and unyielding, yet no one dares to say this perfection we are supposedly aiming at is nothing but simply boring, lacking personality and uniqueness.

Greece

Sappho, Ancient Greece, ca. 630. (612?) – 570 BC

‘Some people prefer to look as if they hadn’t experienced life. My questions is why?’Diane Keaton

Quite.

Medeival

Paris Bordon, Venetian Women at their Toilet, about 1545.

Ironic as it seems, but in today’s day and age, when we have all the information of this world and it is no more a challenge to learn anything and improve oneself, we remain blissfully ignorant to the beauty myth created by corporations with one aim only: to keep us obedient consumers. Indeed, the story of perfect weight – which is, actually, unnatural – is not the story of beauty but one of obedience. Corporations are keeping us hungry – and instead of accepting ourselves for what we are – imperfect but unique and special, we tend to force ourselves to conform to unrealistic norms in attempt to reach the fleeting ideal of perfect beauty – which is not existing. When we strip off the makeup and undo the imaging, what remains is the average, yet underweight, human.

Today, when we have such an abundance of food, why do we starve ourselves?

Twiggy

Lesley Lawson, a.k.a. Twiggy, famous sixties’ English model, born 1949.

At the same time, men are not supposed to be beautiful. Charming, yes. Masculine, yes. But not strictly beautiful like women are. Moreover, the standards of masculine beauty have not changed dramatically through ages, and are only beginning to happen recently.

1940

Forties’ beauty pageant

Why is it that a woman not being mainstream beautiful goes invisible?

And why is it that mainstream beauty is ever changing, so we end up never being beautiful enough?

What is it that makes us feel so insecure and forces us to conform to the unnatural norms?

What is it that we aim to achieve by streaming to attain beauty?

19th century

Portrait of Olimpia Losiowa, 1818-1820.

We realize just how ridiculous these standards are when we explore them through history: from curvalicious renaissance women, to twiggy and today’s Victoria’s Secret models whose only secret is that they are hungry. Really hungry.

Rennaissance

Titian, Venus and the Lute Player (1565–1570)

Besides, isn’t it funny how the image of beautiful men has not changed over time – as opposed to constant transformation of female image.

Are women better buyers or are we simply more self-conscious? 

nineties

Supermodels of the nineties

What is beauty, in its core?

‘ I don’t know why we narrow the definition of beauty so much that we are all reduced to having complexes and feeling inadequate.’ Isabella Rosellini

It was once said how beauty is in the eye of beholder and I cannot agree more. Once we distinguish visually pleasing from beautiful we get on the right page, because more often than not we have been drawn to people who might not have been as visually pleasing as the standard we have been succumbed to. Beauty is, in the end, not about symmetry, shape or color, but rather the attitude we have and energy we radiate.

Monica Bellucci

Monica Bellucci, Italian actress, born 1964.

It is how you feel about yourself that shapes and creates your beauty. 

 

Love Gina Wings

 

 

Bookstores of New York City

Bob Eckstein’s Bookstores of New York

I remember being elementary school pupil and going to our city library. It was in the eighties, the time before internet, let alone tablets, smartphones and ebook readers… the time without Google search engine, when you had to look for books in reference cabinets first, and then walk the endless halls of book cabinets to fetch the ones you are looking for.

Bookstores of New York City

Bliss of that moment – having the book you need in your hands and turning the pages with – more often than not – history written on them, personal notes and references, random thoughts and reminiscences. Each book has a life of its own – every passionate reader will agree – and, while they are bulky indeed, we have to confess there is something about the scent of a book opened and the sense of paper pages within your curious fingers.

Bookstores of New York City

I am guilty as charged – of having these bulky items in such volume that I need a library for them which has increased my house price and my mortgage monthly pay.  Today, although I have more books on my tablet reader which fits into my mini purse, I consider the investment in extra room – library – definitely worthwhile.

Bookstores of New York City

I believe the reasoning is the same with the bookstores, still vivid and fighting the advancements in technology, offering something above the books and above the plain act of reading – bookstores remain a shelter for everyone seeking a touch of culture, history, insight and peace. And, if you are creative enough, they are fancy and inviting, on verge of becoming the ‘it’- places and, with that, saved from oblivion.

Bookstores of New York City

Bob Eckstein, cartoonist, writer, illustrator and snowman expert, in his series ‘Bookstores of New York’ and ‘The Endangered Bookstores of New York’ depicts this atmosphere of culture, style and sophisticated and hip calm. Each has a story to tell, one more special than the other.

Bookstores of New York City

Running a bookstore is not a lucrative business, but a mission to conquer oblivion and share the uniqueness and charm of such special places as bookstores are.

Bookstores of New York City

Don’t you agree?

 

Love Gina Wings

How to Become Better: Human the Project

 

An incredible project was made public in September 2015. – a project followed with almost no media attention but more enlightening and eye-opening than many we have seen in a long time.
It is called ‘Human‘.

In a series of interviews with people all around the globe, combined with breathtaking aerial shots of our magnificent Mother Earth and with stunning background music, author Yann Arthus-Bertrand tries to answer the question what is it that makes human: a question we all ought to stop and ask ourselves.

He explains his inspiration by saying simply:

“I am one man among seven billion others. For the past 40 years, I have been photographing our planet and its human diversity, and I have the feeling that humanity is not making any progress. We can’t always manage to live together.
Why is that?
I didn’t look for an answer in statistics or analysis, but in man himself.”

Indeed…

What is it that makes us human?
What is it that distinguishes us from other Earthly creatures?
What is it that makes our lives worthwhile?

It might be difficult, if at all possible, to answer these questions, but listening closely to the stories might get us closer to the truth. And some are uncannily breathtaking, to the point they seem unbelievable.

Take Ruth, for example…

“Here’s what happened: a German officer in as SS uniform entered the ghetto one rainy night. My mother told him: “Take my daughter.” She lifted the wire fence and handed him her baby, me, a Jewish girl, two and a half years old. And with a heavy heart, she put me in the hands of a wonderful man in an SS uniform.
I now know that this man, Alois Pleva, served in the German army and lived near the German border. This man put me in his coat. He hid me inside his coat and took me to the border between Germany and Poland to his parents. They passed me off as his daughter. They raised me in the purest Catholic tradition until the end of the war.
What a gesture! What magic, this outstretched hand! Like sparks of light in what we call human folly.

Sometimes a question comes to mind. If I had been in a situation like that, would I have acted in the same way as that German officer? How can I answer such a question? I don’t think I would have had the moral strength to do it, in all honesty. Maybe. Did he know he had the strength? How can you know?
How can you recognize the moment of truth when you can sacrifice yourself, sacrifice the only life you have for someone else?
There’s no answer to that question. Or a question others can answer.
But this question must be asked.

What is amazing is how, through listening to the stories, we reach the point of better understanding other human beings, which leads us to more love in this world.

When we listen to Jean-Pierre, for example.

“Not feeling acknowledged. Not feeling understood. Not feeling loved by your family, quite simply. Loved, but not loved for who you are. You want to share something. A homosexual doesn’t know if it’s wrong or not. If he’s told it’s good, or rather, that’s how it is, he doesn’t think that… It’s more or less like someone who worries  that he has cancer. He’s anxious. He needs to hear he isn’t sick. A homosexual wonders what’s wrong with him. He doesn’t know if it’s serious or not and what will happen to him.
There’s nothing more wonderful than parents who say: “So what? You’re gay, so what? As long as you’re happy.”
It’s so obvious! This “So what?” is so often lacking.

A documentary could not have been created without raising some very actual issues that affect the world, maybe best sublimed in what Mouneer from Jordan said.

“There are two parties. Both are Syrian. I have friends and family in both. They are ready to take up arms and kill their neighbors, in the name of politics.
They forget the essential: humanity.
Politics is just relations between powerful nations and people. We’re little guys. We’ll never change anything.

I’ve seen death with my own eyes. I’ve seen my friends lying there, lifeless. When the explosions started, there was one very close to my house. It wrecked my taxi. I saw blood, people’s legs, heads, and arms on the ground.
When I saw all that, it filled me with fear and sorrow. Man can become a monster.
I don’t trust anyone, anymore, except myself. It’s over.
That is why I cut myself off from relations with souls: with every form of human being. It all means nothing.

And there are some ever-present, never solved issues. We might see them in a whole different light once we are faced with the influence they have on our fellow humans – like Sylver from Rwanda.

“What I’ll never forget is what I saw at the time. The fact that one person killed another with a machete.
The reason I can’t forget is that a large part of my family was killed. Before my eyes. What I can’t forget is that the killers cut up a living person with a machete, right in front of me.
I can’t forget it because it happened.
I experienced it.
But it’s incomprehensible.
And impossible to forget.

There is a pearl of wisdom shared by Sergey form Russia, the one that got me choked.

“Maybe these atrocities make people more violent, because they want to avenge them. Even though I can understand that, I try to keep my humanity.
Once you have killed a man, it becomes clear to you you can never hope for heavenly peace, for peace within yourself. When you have killed your enemy, he is no longer an enemy.
So why did you kill him?
It’s an endless cycle. That’s simply the way human nature is.
When you kill a man, only afterward do you realize you should avoided going that far.
Because then, you live with that for the rest of your life. It’s not easy. ”

With the tragic stories we come to realization it is fear that awakens and ignites some of the most terrible actions towards our fellow humans. Fear, the only opposite of love, can only be conquered by love.
And sometimes this very love is concealed in child’s innocence and wisdom… Like touching Tatyana‘s story…

“When I was six years old my parents and I went to the supermarket. It was far away. We had to take a bus. At the big store, we walked through the toy department. I stopped short in front of a glass case containing a magnificent doll. Of course, I had no idea how much things cost. So my mother said to me:
“I can’t afford to buy you this doll.”
And I answered her like a wise old woman:
Mama, I’m not asking you to buy her. I just want you to let me admire her a little.
My mother still weeps when she tells this story.”

This all is love, and if we all try to put more love into this world we might create a better, more peaceful place for all… As Daniel from Mexico simply explains….

Love is the beginning and the end. Love is where we come from, where we’re going and what we live between the two.
Love is everything.

Quite.

Immaculate in its entirety, Human, all three extended parts, is maybe the most appropriate watching suggestion this holiday season.

Love Gina Wings

 

Uncanny Life of Unknown Niece: Dolly Wilde

On this day, one hundred and twenty years ago in London, Dorothy Ierne Wilde, known as Dolly Wilde, was born as an only child of Willie, known only as Oscar Wilde’s older brother.

She looked, said everyone who knew them both, remarkably like her uncle Oscar. She had the same artfully posed, soft, white hands, the same elongated face, and the same air of indolent melancholy which Aristotle insisted was always the natural accompaniment of wit.

    She spoke remarkably like her uncle too or, rather, like a brilliantly female version of Oscar — for there was nothing parodically male about Dolly Wilde. And although she would occasionally dress up as her uncle in borrowed, too-tight pants, a great flowing tie and a famously ratty fur coat (perhaps it was Oscar’s favourite coat after all, the one Dolly’s father Willie was supposed to have pawned when Oscar was imprisoned), she looked most like Oscar Wilde when she was dressed up as herself: a beautiful, dreamy-eyed, paradoxical woman — wonderfully stylish and intermittently unkempt, spiritually illuminated and clearly mondaine. She stares out at us from her few significant photographs with a distinctly contemporary gaze; conscious of the camera, casual about her audience.”

Truly Wilde, The Unsettling Story of dolly Wilde, Oscar’s Unusual Niece; by Joan Schenkar

dolly-wilde-as-oscar-wilde

Dolly Wilde as Oscar Wilde

Having lost her father early in childhood, Dolly became uncanny connected with her uncle Oscar whom she never met and therefore idealized, sharing his brains and wits she used to make her life a work of art. Indeed she was known for her conversational abilities she, unlike her uncle, seldom used in writing, but rather in socializing she was a master of. She was one of the Beautiful Losers: a legendarily gifted speaker whose talent was large, whose expression was private, and whose friends, lovers, and enemies all ended by wringing their respective hands over her squandered gifts and lost opportunities.

“Her conversation was, from the accounts that survive, funny, lyrical, flowing, intimate, interested, penetrating and frequently acerbic. The most tantalising and frustrating part of trying to understand Dolly Wilde is that the hypnotising experience of being in a room with her is lost forever now. Even those who experienced it struggled to recreate it, those grey morning afters having rubbed the edges off the memory, and her essence stubbornly refusing to be separated from herself. While Oscar left a body of written work that would make his wit immortal, Dolly never managed to distil her great talent with words into writing, and so it died with the last person who remembered her.”

Culture & Stuff, November 13, 2011.

It was a peculiar time in Paris in which she arrived in 1914 at the age of nineteen, soon after the World War One it became the time of salons, parties, socialites, the time when one half of the world felt guilty and not wanting to celebrate ever, and the other half having nothing else to do. Peculiar and unique, Dolly belonged to the latter, making her life a work of art and becoming the dream of many women in her social circles.

“Charming herself, she could be charmed into putting off anything, even the narratives she loved so much.

    `Go on,’ Dolly would say to her friend Victor Cunard, the LondonTimes correspondent in Venice, as he hesitated between the irresistible desire to pour out his secret life to her and the fully justified fear that his secret would be instantly betrayed. `Go on,’ she would saw disarmingly in her `bird-charmer’s’ voice to the New Yorker magazine writer Janet Flanner, who was telling her a particularly violent fairy tale, `but tell it slowly, tell every word so that it will last longer.’ Dolly Wilde’s life was full of such interesting, unfinished, delayed relationships through which she was sometimes tempted to try and fulfill herself.”

Truly Wilde, The Unsettling Story of dolly Wilde, Oscar’s Unusual Niece; by Joan Schenkar

Dolly’s was generation that lost its men: some of them slaughtered in trenches of war, and others returned war heroes but forever scarred by battle experience.

Women took over the role of men, and did it quite directly. Dolly was no different.

Women loved Dolly, while Dolly loved one woman, the love of her life, Natalie Clifford Barney. Dolly loved her till the day she was found dead for never completely revealed causes in her flat in London in 1941, at the age of 45.

Natalie_Barney_in_Fur_Cape

Natalie Clifford Barney painted by her mother Alice Pike Barney in 1896.

“Although she could only have been produced by the follies and grandeurs of the 1920s and the 1930s, Dolly Wilde seems sensationally contemporary. Her tastes for cutting-edge conversation and `emergency seductions’ (as she called the sexual adventures which she applied like unguent to her emotional wounds), for fast cars and foreign films, for experimental literature and alcoholic actresses, are still right up to the minute, and it is too easy to forget that she has been dead — and deader still for being unnoticed — these sixty years.”

Truly Wilde, The Unsettling Story of dolly Wilde, Oscar’s Unusual Niece; by Joan Schenkar

Lived extravagantly and passed mysteriously, Dolly was undoubtedly one of most peculiar infamous persons of twentieth century.

The least we can say on this day is: Happy birthday, Dolly!

Love Gina Wings

Our Cheating Hearts: Adultery Revealed

 

“You don’t read Gatsby to learn whether adultery is good or bad but to learn how complicated issues such as adultery and fidelity and marriage are.” – Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran

Complicated? Is that so?

I could’t help but feel these facts of life: marriage, fidelity, adultery are quite simple, actually. We get committed for wanting companionship and to structure our lives. For the most part, we are faithful. And then we succumb to the joys of the flesh and adultery happens. But marriages, vain, remain proudly.
Civilization has taught us that, as long as we keep up our fancy image, we can be anything we wish for in secret.
Quite simple, indeed.

polyamory-2

For me it was more complicated to grasp how did I, and did I, for that matter, end up in a mid-life crisis… I never even realized to have lived through the identity one. Lived and learned.
But – yes – here I was, almost forty and committed, still wondering what does dear Life have in store for me.

I believe it is the same for everyone.

Life happens… and we come to wish for the same thrills we used to sense long ago, realizing they have vanished without a warning sign, one of the funniest tricks dear Life saves for all of us. It is funny that no one ever taught us we ought to be alert because our lives change regardless our reactions or lack of it. We fight, not the change itself, but our conform to ordinary, only to soon realize how unable we are to grasp the very things we want at any given moment despite they are, in fact, within our reach.
Do we prefer structure? Do we prefer what is known and predictable?
Because, after all, predictability of our lives might be boring at times, but is always able to lull us into the idea of safety.
Isn’t safety what we all need?
But, then again, does safety, the way we imagine it, exist at all?

Real or not, this very illusion of safety might be the reason why we would only on rare occasions dare ourselves step out of the known structure, willing to risk all that we know and have for a fleeting moment of unearthly joy… willing to risk pain and hurt to the ones we truly love, despite being enamored by someone else.

This illusion of safety keeps us torn between two terrors: of things remaining the same, versus things changing.
The freedom of choice is both a blessing and a curse.

Is there a balance?
Can we have the best of both worlds?

love-everyone

I love – and when you love, you have to be ready for anything.
Life never stands still, but is in constant motion, and this motion is what keeps us alive.
I love – not as a statement, but rather an action. I love, passionately, fiercely, unconditionally; not because it makes me a better person, but rather because I do not know otherwise.
My love is joy and sharing… and, regardless how attractive and seductive this might seem, in this day and age, it is merely a curse.
Should I change who I am to conform to norms?
And if I do, will I lose my integrity in the process?

Does all this make me an adulteress?
And how do we define one?

Despite mainstream opinion, there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ things, only things that make us happy, and ones that do not.
But, what is happiness, then?
To all of us who reach happiness through thrill of danger, adultery might be the answer.

Adultery… oh, adultery…
All of a sudden, the most beautiful love messages are deleted. Stolen in uncertainty and born out of yearning, they are as ephemeral as summer dew, gone with first glimpses of sun. Yet, they remain the most precious and most sincere… and probably the most loving of them all.
There is an uncanny force in longing that makes the objects of longing more precious, more wanted, more desired…
And…
With each hour passed the desire increases.

That distant evening in March, with a man I have never seen, I committed adultery.
I was thirty-nine and on the verge of midlife crisis.

As a real sophisticated beast, I did it, well, because I could.
It does not stop there, of course… I did it also for anger, illusionary revenge, for curiosity, fun, thrills, joy, excitement… I did it to feel alive again and, what I later found most peculiar, I did it for Love.

I will not be a hypocrite trying to explain myself or better my act by concealing it with love because reasons do not change facts, and I am not soothing my guilty consciousness by defining my adultery with pure love. It was an act of love, and I never had guilty consciousness, nor will I ever consider this wrong.
It was right.
It was not socially acceptable, but this does not make it less right.

polyamory

There comes a time in every long term relationship when you become so familiar with one another that you become unable to distinguish yourself from the other person. A romantic ideal indeed, except that you still want to be yourself and not a smudged image of a couple. It starts suffocating you, right there: not only you become predictable, but life does, too, life, with its ups and downs, long weekends, vacations, car payments and mortgages… all the elements of civilized structure break down above you, making you unable to breathe and wanting to escape.
You feel hate and direct it towards your partner, while it is not the person you hate, but the situation you found yourself in… the trade of freedom for security, despite that was your best bet.
From this moment on, one thing leads to another, inevitably.

polyamory_ring__updated_edition_by_timjo-d5svobx

There you are at crossroads, already knowing your choice.
And there is another person luring you seductively into unknown.
You will take the best of both worlds.

That distant evening in March I committed adultery out of Love, as a result of pure hate.

It felt heavenly diabolical.

 

Love Gina Wings