I’d just seen a bird hit my neighbors’ window. And hard! So hard in fact it appeared that—as if by an occult hand—the chicken-sized animal had been plucked from the heavens and tossed around like some vivid marble. But I’ll give whatever capricious god played with this animal his or her due, because what a bird it was. It’s feathers were a kaleidoscope of pigments that ended in an elongated red tail. It looked like no fowl I had ever seen. And as I marveled at the discombobulated ornithological wonder from my bedroom window this past Sunday, I had to ask myself, “What-in-the-fucking-hell-kinda-funky-ass critter is this?” As of yesterday afternoon, I got my answer.
My mystery bird was a golden pheasant, an
invasive "exotic" species native to China, and probably somebody’s exotic pet. (This is not to be confused with the much less dapper common pheasant, also a Chinese native, but now super-abundant in America, especially the plains states—hell it’s even South Dakota’s state bird). Bob Sallinger, conservation director of the Audubon Society of Portland, broke the news in an email.
And as beautiful as it is, it might also be illegal. And if that's the case, Oregon probably would have wanted me to let it die.
UPDATE: 5:30 PM Bob Sallinger just informed me the animal is legal to possess in the state of Oregon, with the right paperwork.
Here's his full response to my inquiry.
As far as I know, golden pheasants are legal to possess in Oregon and are not becoming prolific in the environment. They are listed as controlled which means there are some rules governing their possession. However people are allowed to keep them in captivity. If one were brought to Audubon or another rehab facility, we would transfer or refer it to either somebody who is qualified to have them or to domestic animal shelter that could adopt it to an appropriate home. We would not be required to euthanize it. The terminology gets confusing...but there is a difference between an exotic species and an invasive species.
The one place that legality might come into question would be if it was deliberately abandoned into the wild. It would not be legal to just dump a bird like this into the environment if it was not longer wanted..
This Wednesday, Portland City Council is due to hear a report examining at how well the city's year-plus—and pointlessly and irrationally controversial—food-scrap composting experiment has fared. It's about what you'd expect from a document mostly meant to give city commissioners and city planners a chance to wax poetically about trash: A lot less of it is heading to landfills—a lot more food scraps are winding up in yard waste bins.
But the best part? To test out, roughly, how many Portlanders were going along with the compost program, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability commissioned a "field study" wherein intrepid and curious workers actually had to peek inside the garbage cans outside a random sample of 1,000 Portland homes.
"Based a positive identification of food scraps," nine in 10 green garbage cans contained kitchen slop—meaning, if you count homes where no one put out a green cart at all, close to 78 percent of residents participated overall.
Of course, no matter how good the numbers look, a disturbingly vocal and cranky minority of us won't ever be swayed and won't ever come around to the idea that biweekly pickup of regular garbage just isn't a real inconvenience. I say that even after having had, for a while, two kids crapping and pissing into disposable plastic diapers, which makes me one of the hordes of supposedly aggrieved Portlanders critics love to invoke.
Mayor-elect Charlie Hales has mentioned his willingness to find a way to restart some kind of weekly option for people who really want it. I'm just not sure who those people are.
Jen LaMastra is the indisputable star (unless you care to dispute me) of Glean, a group show of art made solely with materials scavenged from the city dump, currently on view at Disjecta. She has a couturier's knack for looking at a material—be it pages of a dictionary, window blinds, or tires—and determining what would be the most painstaking possible way of using it. The result is wearable sculpture that defies predictability as often as it does the act of sitting (one of her submissions for Glean involves a bustle made, in part, of bed springs). If you don't get up to the old Paul Bunyan to often, though, there's another, downtown chance to see LaMastra's latest. "Single Use Disposables: Convenience or Conundrum" is now on view in the Galleria windows at SW 9th & Morrison, and on view through October.
I can't resist fantasizing about what LaMastra could do with traditional dressmaking materials, but she remains focused on raising awareness of the waste society generates, and this installation—fourth in a series—specifically deals in plastic bags, coffee cups, and plastic beverage bottles, materials specifically intended to be used once and thrown away. Here's a video of her fashioning coffee cops into an intricate bodice, but let it be a teaser for the finished installation and, better yet, a motive to make the trek out North to Glean, which features some of her most impressive work to date.
It's true, the internet is eating its own tail. But in the interest of your being able to keep up with the water-cooler talk, here comes the latest horrifying act of cannibalism, this time from Sweden.
SNL comics have burst like humorless spiders from putrid nests into numerous movies, TV shows, stand up tours, and plays, and there have been many memoirs by and bios of these comedians, but no book has addressed the real question that plagues the show: Why isn't SNL funny? Hammond's autobiography, God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m Fucked: Tales of Stand-Up, Saturday Night Live, and Other Mind-Altering Mayhem (Harper) finally provides an indirect answer, especially if his life is held up against books about John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Michael O’Donoghue, Phil Hartman, Chris Farley, and the oral history of the show itself.
In their terrific book about screenwriting, Writing Movies for Fun and Profit, Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon discuss booze and creativity (they’re for them). Booze relaxes you and stimulates new ideas and perspectives; it also drowns trouble when your script goes into turnaround yet again. Hammond took booze to extremes, however, along with cocaine and self-cutting, somehow managing to maintain a healthy work ethic while keeping himself blotto and/or blacking out and ending up in Mafia bars at two in the morning.
Paul Reuben's rise as Pee-wee was meteoric. The character grew from a skit for the Los Angeles-based comedy group the Groundlings, then turned into a recurring live show. After a cameo in Cheech & Chong's Next Movie, Reubens starred in an HBO special, based on the Groundlings event, and then Pee-wee's Big Adventure, a film that married the talents of Reubens and another newcomer, Tim Burton. The Pee-wee Herman persona reached its zenith in 1986 with the debut of Pee-wee's Playhouse, a faux children's program aired Saturday mornings on CBS. But Reubens reached a personal nadir in July 1991, in the South Trail Cinema, an adult movie theater in Sarasota, Florida, when around 10 pm a patrolling cop—as the police report chronicles it—"did observe the Def's penis exposed. The Def did begin to masterbate [sic] his exposed penis with his left hand. At approx 2035 hrs, the Def did again expose his penis and masterbate [sic] again." Three other men were also arrested. The film showing was Nurse Nancy.
At which point Pee-wee Herman became a national joke, the subject of Jay Leno monologues. Reubens had another brush with the law in 2002 when he was scooped up in the Jeffrey Jones child pornography scandal thanks to an extensive collection of gay erotica, supposedly mostly men's physique magazines bought in bulk. Since then, Reubens has repaired his career and may do yet another Pee-wee Herman movie.
That's right, it's the R. Kelly cruise. From the McRib-lovin' mind that brought you "Bump n' Grind," Trapped in the Closet, and urinating on underage girls, Carnival is proud to present the Love Letter Cruise, embarking next October for a five day excursion through the Bahamas. If we needed any furthur proof that Kelly is the voice of our generation, this is it.
It isn't cheap (tickets start at $1500), but the cruise features a wealth of entertainment, including a fashion show and modeling contest, mock game show, waterslide fun, and even a wellness seminar! Sounds like a great time to be had by all—let's just hope they chlorinate the fuck out of that pool (because of, you know... the pee).
End Hits: Ridin' that Soula Coaster.
Another detail about next weekend's Open for Business sale at the Cleaners (which I also previewed last week). Like so many things that happen in this city, the idea for the event was born as a byproduct of its organizers just hanging out. Alison Hawley, who first came onto the scene as one of the forces behind the bygone Frank James shop (along with prevalent stylist Victoria Mesenbrink), is launching her home-goods project, Nice Work, at the event, and Heather Sielaff is the woman behind cult fragrance line OLO.
So it wasn't long before the two also started kidding about collaborating on a room spray, and that quickly e-/de-volved into a bathroom specific spray that addressed Hawley's semi-OCD obsession with Pine-Sol. Originally they were going to call it "Number Two," but the product that did eventually become a reality (and will also make its limited edition appearance at OFB) got dialed back to the Frenchified "Deux." I had the opportunity to preview the scent over the weekend, which is indeed a fresh and very pine-y, cedar scent, elements that Sielaff points out "happens to be a great neutralizer." I ordinarily think of bathroom sprays as an unnecessary way of dumping more chemicals into your air intake, but this is a far cry from the aerosol cans lined up at Freddy's. It's one of those rare gift items that walks the line between thoughtful and jackass, which is just necessary for certain gift recipients. Like, say, the brother who proudly tricked you into checking out his most impressive contributions to the family toilet back in the day, for instance. Ahem.
Despite her fame or reputation, little was known about Pauline Kael the person. Now, former Oregonian Brian Kellow has been rectified that situation with a new biography, Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark (Viking). Mr. Kellow throws a great deal of light on the famous critic's heretofore mysterious ways. Some highlights:
• Kael was born on a chicken farm in Petaluma, California, but was raised in San Francisco and became a coffee house bohemian, philosophy student, aspiring playwright, and something of a fag hag.
• Her main relationships were with the poet Robert Duncan (gay); critic Robert Horan (gay); the poet Weldon Kees; experimental filmmaker James Broughton (bisexual), with whom she had a daughter, Gina; and Ed Landberg, operator of an arthouse theater which Kael more or less took over and turned into a platform for her early reviews, in the form of program notes.
• In the early 1940s, Kael and Horan trekked to Manhattan, where they attempted to break into the arts. On their first day there, however, Horan was picked up by a couple outside Saks, who turned out to be the composers Samuel Barber and Gian Carlo Menotti. Horan moved in with them that night, leaving Kael to fend for herself. She fled back to 'Frisco four years later.
• The impecunious Kael married Landberg, which allowed Kael to get necessary heart surgery for her daughter. The marriage lasted a year, or until Landberg discovered that "I couldn't stand that woman."
Considering popping a squat downtown? Think again:
I'm used to the "No sleeping/sitting here" signs, but this one definitely cuts to the chase.
This weekend, Ray's 1950 noir In a Lonely Place screens at the Fifth Avenue Cinema (showtimes are here), which means now's as good a time as any to delve into his fascinating life. In Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director (It Books), Patrick McGilligan traces Ray's Zelig-like life: He was a Wisconsin teen roué; a disciple of architect Frank Lloyd Wright; a member of the Group Theater; a collaborator with music folklorist Alan Lomax; a student under the likes of Elia Kazan; a director of Humphrey Bogart (In a Lonely Place), Robert Mitchum (The Lusty Men), and Joan Crawford (Johnny Guitar); a cult-famous person thanks to the writings of the future French New Wave directors in Cahiers du Cinema; and, finally, in New York, a teacher to Jim Jarmusch, among others.
Now she has written a book. I wish she hadn't.
It is unlikely that Rob Lowe's life story will fit into this template. Stories I Only Tell My Friends (Henry Holt and Co.) is an account so dull as to make drying paint yawn. Celebrity watchers might enjoy its cameos of the famous people Lowe has run into from time to time, from Cary Grant to Sting, and aspiring actors will glean lessons from his account of a typical Hollywood career. But Lowe's career is mostly interesting for its scandals, lightly treated here.
Redford more or less collaborated with the book's author, Michael Feeney Callan, and the text has the feel of a long interview spiced with occasional detours to facts, figures, and filmographies. Thus, it doesn't ask the hard questions, such as: Why does Redford take so long to decide on what movies to make, thus hanging up his collaborators? When he does finally choose to join a project, why are they almost inevitably mediocre? Why is he such a difficult and elusive manager of Sundance? And is his "conquest" list as long as Warren Beatty's?
Indeed, in his new memoir, Ice-T comments on the "attracted-to-bad-boys" phenomenon: "I'm going to tell it to you straight—I don’t give a fuck. Little white girls are intrigued by little black boys. You ain't never going to shake that."
In Ice: A Memory of Gangster Life and Redemption — From South Central to Hollywood (One World/Ballantine), Ice T—born Tracy Marrow—recounts his life from comfortable New Jersey suburb to comfortable showbiz life via South Central, an army tour, and hiphop. Since the mid-'70s, Ice-T had been making poems called "Crip Rhymes," and he traces hiphop back to Iceberg Slim, pimp culture, Muhammad Ali, James Brown, and the blues. "To me it was street-level journalism, real-life observations told in poetry."
Meanwhile, Ice-T was leading an "international crime spree" of jewelry stores, using planning skills learned in the army—but hiphop soon supplanted robbery, which led to record deals, which in turn led to a part in New Jack City, and then a 10-year run on Law and Order: SVU and a reality TV show, Ice Loves Coco ("He's a doctor!"), with a side foray into rock controversy with 1992's track "Cop Killer," which, like so much at the time did, infuriated Tipper Gore.
Does Martin Scorsese ever weary of telling his life story? While doing press for each new film, he submits to a round of interrogations, many of which have been gathered into an anthology, Martin Scorsese: Interviews. And there's a full-volume interview, too—Scorsese on Scorsese—that has gone through periodic updates. Now comes Conversations with Scorsese (Knopf), a book in the tradition of Hitchcock/Truffaut and Cameron Crowe's Conversations with Wilder—a late-in-life summing up.
Conducted by Richard Schickel, the Luddite reviewer for Time, Conversations with Scorsese is built around softball questions pitched by a person who deems himself a friend (he continually calls his subject "Marty") and a peer (Schickel has directed movie history documentaries). For a balanced assessment of Scorsese's career, look elsewhere (like Roger Ebert's recent Ebert on Scorsese), and for gossipy details, consult Vincent LoBrutto's Martin Scorsese: A Biography. Still, in Conversations with Scorsese, one learns from the horse's mouth that:
• Scorsese showed Francis Ford Coppola a print of Mean Streets. The next day, Coppola hired Robert De Niro for The Godfather Part II.
Like this (occasional) column, Hellraisers: The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed (Thomas Dunne Books) is an anthology of dissipation. (It's out now in hardcover, but comes out next month in paperback.) Robert Sellers, who has written books about Sting and Tom Cruise, tracks these tanked thespians from childhood on, decade by decade, each chapter rotating among the four in title order. Richard Burton (née Jenkins) was a Welsh rugby aficionado mentored by teacher Philip Burton, whose last name he took and who outlived him; Richard Harris came from a large, well-off family, and was violent and unschoolable; Peter O'Toole, born in Ireland, was raised in Leeds among what he called the "criminal class" (three of his childhood friends were eventually hanged for murder); and Oliver Reed, born in London privilege, grew up a bully whose favorite world was pub culture. Gay or at least bisexuality rumors always clung to Burton (after all, he was married to Elizabeth Taylor—twice), but Sellers doesn't address that possibility. On the other hand, numerous other actors and their boozing enter the main four's obits, and the reader reads corked cameos of Trevor Howard, Peter Finch, and George C. Scott, whose love for Ava Gardner didn't prevent him from trying to slug her — and this on the set of The Bible.
Does the public truly like Angelina Jolie?
Sure, the actress won an Oscar, has been heralded as sexy in magazine polls, and—at the opposite end of the value spectrum—is a staple of grocery store tabloids. But does anyone ever say, "Let’s watch Tomb Raider again tonight"? Does the public really wonder who she's wearing on the red carpet? Have they memorized her tattoos, or the birth order of her children?
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the public doesn't embrace Jolie as an icon—but the publishing industry does, so now St. Martin's Press has issued Andrew Morton's biography of the 35-year old actress, Angelina: An Unauthorized Biography.
Born into Hollywood royalty as the daughter of actor Jon Voight and his then-wife, Marcheline Bertrand (herself the offspring of a wealthy, snobbish Midwestern family with showbiz ambitions on its maternal side), Jolie had a seemingly typical L.A. upbringing: divorced and feuding parents, a close younger brother in her shadow, a phase as a street Goth, a brief modeling career, and a trip to stardom so speedy it must have been fueled by Satan. As an adult, Jolie seems to have modeled her career after Elizabeth Taylor (numerous husbands swiped from other women), Madonna (multiple reinventions, and a taste for baby collecting), and her own father's political commitment to social amelioration (Voight began as an activist, before falling into the clutches of an oddball family of hustlers and becoming a right-wing proselytizer).
Given the current economic climate, we need to live our lives vicariously. No one has any money to spend, no one seems to be having sex (these are two linked enterprises), and people are desperate for parties and decadence. But—for the time being, anyway—we must get our fix of Higher Fun from TMZ.com and and E!, though some additional help comes from writer Robert Hofler’s biography of agent-promoter-producer Allan Carr, Party Animals: A Hollywood Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll Starring the Fabulous Allan Carr (Da Capo Press).
Carr, once upon a time, was Allan Solomon of Chicago—until one day he became a theater producer, then Ann-Margret's manager, then promoter of Tommy and Saturday Night Fever before shepherding Grease from stage to screen. The nadirs of his career were the Village People movie Can't Stop the Music (please try), and the notorious 61st Oscar ceremony in which Carr paired Snow White with Rob Lowe to sing "Proud Mary." He died of liver cancer in 1999, age 62.
Carr was a short, pug-like human being and plastic-surgery recipient who resembled, in both appearance and ambition, Truman Capote, Carr's unofficial mentor in party giving. He was prone to monstrous weight gains (up to 300 pounds) and favored elaborate body-disguising caftans. Carr had an eating disorder—a refrigerator was his bed stand—that resulted in gastric bypasses. He also wired his jaws shut from time to time, though that hardly prevented him from squeezing liver or chocolate cake past his dental hardware. Aside from promoting the careers of various clients, Carr was the architect of a series of lavish parties, whose ephemeral fabulousness are his legacy.
Warren Beatty has probably fucked your wife. According to Peter Biskind's new biography, Beatty has bedded 12, 775 women, "a figure that does not include daytime quickies, drive-by blowjobs, casual groupings, stolen kisses, and so on." It's possible—even likely—that your wife is there among that brobdingnagian statistic. Go ahead, ask her when you get home.
Biskind's book, Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America (Simon and Schuster), is the fourth biography of the actor, producer, and Oscar winner. Already the author of histories covering Hollywood filmmaking in the '70s and the '90s, Biskind is unlike other biographers in his complete boredom with psychology, which is perhaps to his credit. He’s largely uninterested in Beatty's motivations; he barely mentions Beatty's childhood in Virginia, where he was merely little Henry Beaty. Biskin is, however, quite interested in gossip, and offers up many facts, or rather "facts," among which are:
• Jane Fonda was usually proficient at oral sex because apparently she could briefly dislocate her jaw (page 15-16)
• Beatty believes that "every woman is a lesbian at heart" (page 161)
• Old women are Beatty's "biggest fetish" (page 138)
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