Barbidoesmiami

How to Stay Sane in the City of No Shame


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Harvey Fucking Weinstein

A fictional vignette set on the night of Tuesday the 10th of October.

At the home of fashion designer Donna Karan, Gaby hands her mother a cell phone:

“It’s uncle Harvey,” she says.

“I don’t want to talk to him,” Donna says. She turns away. She has been crying.

“Tell him yourself,” Gaby says.

Donna takes the phone. She hesitates, wondering whether to press End or throw it across the room.

“Don’t Mom,” Gaby says, “it’s my phone.”

“Hey,” Donna says.

“Can you come over?” Harvey is on speakerphone.

“You’re kidding right? How about a thank you first?”

“Your stocks are up you know?”

“Jesus, they are?”

“Gun stocks went up last week, after the Vegas shooting. It’s a fucked up world darling.”

“I don’t give a shit about DKNY stocks.”

“Come over. Georgina left me. I learned it from a People Magazine news alert.”

Donna looks at her daughter for help. Gaby shakes her head – NO.

“There are reporters outside. I can’t do this right now.”

“I’ll send a car. Use the back door. I need you. I’m alone. God knows what I might do.”

Donna ends the call and hands the phone back to her daughter.

“Do it already,” Gaby says under her breath.

 

Harvey is in a hotel suite. The TV is on in the background. Pictures of Paltrow and Jolie flash across the screen. The sound is off. He is wearing a large white bathrobe wrapped around his huge frame. There is a knock on the door. He gets up, a white tie drops to the floor and the robe opens. He is naked underneath. Holding the two pieces of fabric together with one hand, he opens the door.

“Put some fucking clothes on,” Donna calls from the corridor. “Jesus Harv, what is WRONG with you.”

“Oh come on, I’m not gonna jump you.”

“That’s not the point, it’s just so fucking inappropriate right now.”

“Maybe it’s appropriate. I’m comfortable this way. Who fucking cares.”

“At least put this around you,” Donna enters the room, picks up the white strip of fabric and hands it to Harvey. She ends up putting it around him herself, adjusting the large robe as if he’s a model in one of her shows. He puffs on a large cigar, blowing the smoke sideways, away from her.

“There,” she says almost maternally. “Now I need a drink.”

They sit down across from each other. Donna picks up the remote, flicks through the channels and stops at National Geographic. She pulls her legs under her and rubs her face. Harvey too is rubbing his large head.

“Fucking idiot asshole,” she says and looks up at him. “I thought you’d stopped this shit when you married Georgina. What were you thinking?”

“It’s what we do.” Harvey shrugs. “Trump did it. Look at him – our President! He flaunts it and they love him!”

“The press doesn’t love him. New Yorkers don’t. Our friends don’t. Anyway since when is Trump your role model?”

“It’s the reason men achieve. In movies, fashion, business. The money. The fame.”

“What is?”

“Women! Sex!”

“Not for me! Imagine me groping and propositioning every male model that walked in for a casting?”

“Don’t say you haven’t thought about it?!”

Donna looks right at Harvey who has a semi-erotic smirk on his face. She shakes her head.

“I’m not here to talk dirty with you. And no I haven’t. It’s not how we think.”

“WE?”

“Women. We may look at a hot guy and joke about how he makes us feel, pretend we’d sleep with him, but I don’t know any woman who would force herself on a young, sexy guy the way you did with these poor girls.”

“Poor girls?! I made their careers! Gwynie, Angie! I gave them everything they dreamed off! I never hurt them! Some of them got a million bucks just for showing their tits and watching me – you know– for a few minutes!”

Donna looks disgusted.

“Stop! You’re a pervert. A creep. I had no idea it was this bad. None!”

“I’m not proud of it.”

“You just don’t think it’s a big deal?”

“Everyone did it. Or at least tried. What about dear old Sydney Kimmel? And Warren Beatty?”

“Beatty stopped years ago, and he was hot.”

“And I’m fat and ugly.”

“You abused your power.”

“Power is all I’ve got. No girl wants to fuck me!”

Donna studies him. He is too large for his chair, as he sits slouched with his legs spread, a big cigar between his thick lips. One chubby hand stroking the kind of beard that looks good on Clooney and Beckham but fails miserably as an attempt to hide his pock-scarred face.

“Oh boo-hoo,” she says, “you had Georgina. You got two lovely kids. You got it all! You’re a sick fool and now the whole world knows it. And NO – ONE is EVER going to feel sorry for you.”

“I don’t give a shit about pity. But really? You know that they all showed up looking sexy and seductive? They wanted me to want them. Right? But they do not want me! They want to be the next Marilyn – so every man in the world… and I could make that happen for them. All they dream of are teenage boys jerking off to their fucking pictures. And I have that power! But because I look like the fucking BEAST in Beauty, I am called a sexual predator when I ask for some jerking off in return. Ironic no?”

“You hate women.”

“Perhaps. They never liked me.”

“You really do.”

“It’s bewildering. Like you said last night.”

“I don’t even remember what I said. Exactly.”

“You said a stupid thing.”

“Thanks. I was trying to find a way to defend you, for Georgina and the kids. I love them.”

“You don’t love me. “

“No Harv, right now I don’t love you.”

“You never loved me, you never even liked me. You tolerate me because I’m Harvey Weinstein.”

“I can’t believe I said what they say I said.”

“You better own it.”

“It’s so not me. Everyone knows that.”

“No they don’t. Right now the insatiables are tearing you apart. It’s the perfect companion story to my debauchery. The fashion designer enabler! Like the madam! Everything you’ve ever done, for women, for kids, New Yorkers, Haitians. Forget it. It’s all been erased. You are the bitch that sold out women. Welcome to Hollywood baby.”

“Hollywood?” Donna looks puzzled.

“Georgina believes Hollywood pits women against each other. But it’s just how women are. You’re just as competitive as men, but your hierarchy is unclear. We fight it out honestly, man to man. There are no illusions; it’s all sport – the winner wins. You bitches just pretend to support each other, but really all you do is compete.”

“Bullshit! I am a woman’s woman! I went out of my way to hire only women. I paid them well. I loved working with my all women teams. We did great stuff together. That was what made Donna Karan the brand! When I sold the company I opened Urban Zen, gave money to Hillary, Planned Parenthood, I started women’s labor incentives in Haiti. Health Care programs for low income families here in the City, everything I did was for women and their families!”

“No one cares about that now! You sold your women out. You said they were asking for it — for sex with me!” Harvey laughs. “..and here we are — thinking we’re both champions for women…” He laughs harder.

Donna weeps. She drinks down her wine, gets up for a refill and starts pacing.

“You and I are NOT the same. I am angry! Furious at what you guys create in the name of the female sex. The way YOU portray us! And then we all need to live up to that warped idea of us! I was so fucking pissed at that DKNY dog-walking commercial with that Gone Girl actress.”

“Emily Ratakovski, is her name. Cute girl.”

“It was NOT MY WORK! That bra has MY NAME on it, and yet I have nothing to do with that branding. NOTHING! I don’t even know who ran that campaign.”

“I thought the ad was cute.” He takes a suggestive drag on his cigar and readjusts his robe.

“CUTE!? I no longer design the ‘cute’ shit that is out there with my name on it. I designed for real women twenty years ago! Working women! Not girls. Not grown women who want to look like sexy young girls. Not girls who want to prove that they have a positive body image of themselves by walking down the street undressed. Or post nude pictures – look at me, look at me, how I love my body — my body is better than yours.”

“Instagram is one fucking competitive shit-show of hot women trying to out-hot-body each other… but I can’t touch them!”

“No you can’t. Different thing. It’s complicated but it’s different.”

“Not to me. Not to men. Men think it’s all for them.”

“Well, get with it. That’s the depressing part. It’s for ourselves and each other. Not to get laid. I almost kill myself with daily yoga so I look fit, I’ve had nips and tucks and lifts and it all hurts and goes south anyway and I wish I could just stop. Believe that it doesn’t matter. But I can’t. I need to feel young to feel good. And feeling good is all about looking good. For me. In this bloody business. Fashion…. and also in your fucking films.”

“So move to your beloved Haiti.”

“I might. It’s great. For that reason, perhaps. Also. When I am with people who have so little, are so positive, so loving, I don’t even look in the mirror. I go days without thinking about myself. My age, my saggy arms, my wrinkles. And yet I feel sexier there than I ever do in New York.”

Harvey stares at her.

“Actually … Haiti is the only place I still feel sexy. Worthy. Real. Myself.”

“You sound like Georgina,” he sounds bored.

“Why?”

“You know what Donna? I’m tired. I’m totally fucked. I lost everything I’ve worked for my entire life, so I don’t really give a shit when or why you feel sexy. When any woman feels sexy.”

“All you care about is yourself.”

“That’s right — I’ve earned it.”

“ A lonely place Harvey, I can’t help you there.”

“ I never asked you to.”

“No, I did that all on my own. Three off-the-cuff, inebriated sentences, and MY reputation of 30 years is down the toilet. All for the least deserving man in the universe. And all I want to do is talk to Stephan. He’d know what to do. You didn’t deserve another marriage. But I loved him. I was faithful. I thought we’d be together forever. Then he dies! So now this one is on me and me only. And I have no idea what to do. How to be in this gotcha world – I try but it’s all too much and I miss him.”

Harvey yawns. “Goodnight Donna. Thanks for stopping by.”

“Goodnight Harvey fucking Weinstein.”

—————————————————————————————————————————————-

This is a piece of satire that reflects my sense of the culture that created these two  “fallen icons”. I have met them both. I interviewed with Donna in 1999 and saw her socially in the Hamptons and Miami. She is a loving, open woman whom I truly believe has done a lot to support and help modern women. She lost her husband to cancer in 2001. He was her champion and partner. I don’t know why she said what she said this week, or how she meant it, but I have no problem cutting her some slack. Weinstein however…

I have my own Harvey Fucking Weinstein Story.

In 1989 a British actress friend insisted I go out with him. I don’t know if she was trying to ingratiate herself, I don’t know how he’d treated her. I do know that he introduced her to Woody Allen who subsequently used her in Husband and Wives. She told me he was a bit of a groper, but that she’d warned him to keep his hands off me. Ha!

It was to be a drinks and movie date and we met at the Bemelmans Bar. First thing he said to me was “I promised Lysette I’d keep my hands to myself.” Nevertheless I kept peeling him off me over cocktails and then he fell asleep within the first ten minutes of the movie. Relieved, I left him there, snoring loudly, and skipped out.

Lysette and I laughed about it and he never mentioned the date to her again.

Years later I was in an elevator with him, my husband and a glam crowd at a film award ceremony for Richard Gere. Liam Neeson had just smiled at me so I felt feisty. From my corner of the elevator I said loudly, for everyone to hear:

“Harvey! The only date that ever fell asleep on me!”

He glared at me. He was furious.

 

 

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Beyond Miami Beach…

As Advised by Great White Dog

I find myself annoyed. Am I annoyed with Miami? After eight years of living here?

Much has happened in that time. We lived here during Obama’s his entire presidency. When we arrived there were many unspoken agreements that had shaped the local culture over the twenty preceding years, from the wild-west eighties until the crash of 2009. “As long as we are having fun” was one of them. Being serious was boring. I was called a Debbie Downer at a dinner party, when I talked about water in the streets as a result of climate change (that BTW, had made every guest late for the party). Don’t get me wrong, I like having fun, but my idea of fun is  different from dressing in skimpy but expensive designer clothes, drinking outrageous cocktails, clamoring around celebs and music so intense that the only possible interaction is taking selfies with your “friends” (while hoping for one with that star).

Yes guilty, my initial blogs were all about those parties. As an outlet for my culture shock. And, after years of working in NYC and living in Milford, PA with small children, these parties were so alien, so different and took me so far outside myself, that it felt like something I needed, in the way that getting really drunk sometimes feels like a healthy dose of vitamin C. It wore off fast, the so-called glamorous lifestyle, one that I had always walked away from, in Amsterdam, Paris, London and New York. It just isn’t me. I like to drive myself hard and if I don’t accomplish stuff I set out to do, I get depressed. I do not dream of retiring, shopping and sitting by the pool for the rest of my life. I need to be heard and seen and not for gossip and what I wear. So when the party dust settled I got to work on being relevant in Miami, no matter what it took.

It took a lot… I gave it my best… I feel depleted… I can’t say I conquered and I’m kind of over trying (… plus I’m getting shit done in other parts of the world).

And yes, I realize it’s not all about me and I’m not alone. Three months into 2017 and this worn-out feeling is a national depression. Up and down the East and West Coast we aspired to be part of a wave of hope that Obama brought with him. One that I saw as a way to change and save Miami, with talks of rising sea-levels, an ocean full of plastic, recycling and up-cycling, the right for all kids to an inspired public education such as DASH, affordable housing instead of 20% occupancy in condos and private homes worth billions on Miami Beach, air-conditioned year-around.

But if it felt like I was swimming against the stream over the past eight years,  I am now swimming into a Tsunami. Will the already lavish parties get even bigger and crazier as the 1% feels empowered, emboldened in their greed and need to flaunt it, with Miami Beach as the perfect stage for competitive one-percenting? Living less than a mile from Sunny Isles, with its six Trump Towers, and the highest concentration of Russian investments in recent years, Russia’s unabashed imperialism is palpable. And after the cuts to environmental protection, the NEA, healthcare, public transportation, education, housing and human and women’s rights, what will happen to the other group, the full-time residents and working class whose statistics show that Miami’s income disparity is one of the largest in the country?

Yet it is all about me. Also. About what I can give and do and how I will spend the next twenty years of my life optimizing who I am, what I have learned and how I can reflect this back on generations to come. In another year the twins will leave for college. I will be free from the school calendar, driving and feeding and other hands-on mothering. I look at them, and how they act and feel, and I remember being seventeen and practically jumping out of my own skin with impatience, anger even at being told what to do by teachers, parents, the system. The nervous restlessness that I now recognize for what it is in my girls – their booster engines filled with ambition for their future and need for autonomy, propelling them forward. As I see this in my daughters I recognize it in myself, four decades older than they are, but the impulse is the same, I am getting ready for another shift.

So I am annoyed at Miami. Or I am just annoyed. I am practically jumping out of my skin with irritation at the status quo, and like a very old teenager I’m going to use this urge to amp it up some and get more shit done…

(But maybe not in Miami).

 

Links to projects elsewhere:

PORTFOLIO SITE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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The Tassel Room

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Have you ever dreamt that you’re in the bathroom section of Sears and you need to pee and in this dream you convince yourself that it would be OK to go ahead in the Toro toilet showroom model?

Well…

Tonight I went to an interior style book-signing party and a celebration of “12 impeccable years of design, art and luxury” somewhere tucked between Fort Lauderdale airport and North Miami.

The invitation had come by mail and looked like a wedding invite with peacocks and “the pleasure of your company” requested by Ann Getty, John Hall Nelson and  Iran Issa Khan. There is little friends of Iran won’t do for her. Iran is after all the most supportive friend anyone can have and so when Iran beckons friends follow her to the end of the world. Literally.

Cocktails and Dinner it said and I was ready. I had a vivid idea of what could be done in a decorating warehouse. Anything! All that furniture would surely become a fabulous set, a styled background for the most over-the-top party ever. I imagined the ambience of every movie Tilda Swinton had ever been in (Orlando meets Narnia meets I am Love). Rampant fantasy settings, dimmed chandeliers, mysterious rooms made up from samples, drapes, beds, not one chair or table alike, random but real, a wonderland that would have me dreaming….

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But.

Expectation will fuck with me every time.

First I drove through the suburban nightmare of Hallandale and Dania Beach, a monotonous six-lane with traffic lights every hundred yards and rush-hour traffic that leaves one brain dead.

I tried to stay hopeful. I reminisced about the final episode of Downton Abbey that lingered in my mind.

Then I drove through a dark landscape of ominous warehouses and imagined Hollywood Studios with the set of Marie Antoinette dedans.

But this was Hollywood FL.

I turned a corner and stopped in front of a very ordinary strip mall with a very ordinary looking furniture showroom.

A showroom, a huge showroom, a brightly lit traditional Miami suburban showroom. It was just that. Nothing more and nothing less. The place where trophy wives go to decorate their plastic Greek Revival home on steroids in gated communities with names like River Highlands, Princeton Pastures and The Governor’s Club  and hope to look the nouveau part with all its Downton, Versailles, Deco Drive, Morris Lapidus, Versace, Shabby Chic, Chinoisery  and Out Of Africa style like gilded mirrors, claw footed tables, deep fat couches with red zebra upholstery, ebony and ivory inlay tables, brocade drapes, satin sheets, bronze and glass coffee tables…  all this inside while a steady stream of red and white lights whizzed by at 80 miles ph on I-95 just yards away.

But regardless, there were waiters with white gloves and trays with bacon wrapped scallops, foie gras and caviar. There were women in Louboutins and Oscar de la Renta cocktail dresses. There were old men in pink slacks, navy blazers and jolly ties, there even was one young gay man in a bright yellow short suit.

The first thing I saw upon entry was a king size four-poster bed made up in traditional dusty blues. The four tapered posts had mirrors that aspired to deco meets Morris Lapidus style.  But at  5″ wide and 6ft tall, these four mirrored  posts would make for very narrow sexy time, I imagined, walking in half dealing with my disappointment the other half busy with this bed – and the kinky couple that might be in it:

He (trying to see himself in the slither of mirror): “To the left a bit, no thats too far , to the right, up a bit yes now I can see, no dont move, well no dont stop completely…”

She: “Shit man, I prefer my mirror on the ceiling and my cuffs on the posts.”

Personally I had a vison of having the 12 impeccable years of design, art and luxury celebration in that bed, with our dinner on trays all together in bedjackets Joan Crawford style. I suggested it to my friends in attendance but every single one seemed creeped out by me.

Like it was me and not the actual place that was creepy.

I mean.

Whats the point of having dinner in a Hollywood FL furniture showroom and act like its the ballroom of the London Ritz?

Fuck’em.

In the end it turned out that it was in the tassel room.

The tassel room was where it was at.  The tassel room was what I’d had in mind all along, the tassel room was the inadvertent VIP room with not one tasseled red rope across the entrance but dozens on the walls. I had tassel room envy as soon as I saw it, but the tassel room had already filled up with women who were wearing tassel camouflage, like  Hermes prints and  feathered, beaded, puckerd, folded and pleated fabrics – it was hard to tell the tassels from the lasses tucking into their steak, asparagus and grilled veggies.

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Dejected, I headed to the lighting showroom and  persuaded one couple to dine with me, once there some thin ice was broken and a few more joined in. But I mean please, here we are dining in a lighting showroom with dozens of ugly wall sconces so why  be ashamed to play with the dimmers? And why not  joke about the brightest bulb in the room?

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After this we remembered that Ann Getty had  a book, but was this not a signing? She seemed to be there incognito, at her own booksigning party where no one ever spoke about a book but it was more of a discovery-like treasure hunt, first you had to find this publication (there was zero promotion, which was almost a refreshing, like new kind of thing) and then, once we found and purchased it, we went armed with her author picture in an attempt to find her and ask in a syrupy voice if she would be so kind to sign it.

And then it was over.

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Why am I Such an Oxy Moron?

Nothing kills a conversation faster than my introduction at a Miami bling party

Meet barbara, she makes beautiful jewelry from trash she finds on the beach…

I get a wan smile of panic, then the introducee bolts to another circle in search of  meeting star people like J.Lo’s derriere masseur, Lohan’s life coach, Madonna’s  Manolo shiner or P.Diddy’s Cuban cigar lighter…

Its OK

Its Miami

It was, last night, the Barton G. launch party of VAULT, his new magazine, held at The Villa, his new Art of Being Social intimate inn housed in the former Versace Pallazzo

boxing ring location

Barton G., a Houdini who, 20 years ago, took Miami Beach and boiled it down, distilled it, infused it, let it sit and then blew its essence out into  a gawdy kitch trippyness  he branded the Art of Being Social, naming himself the master of ceremonies –  the Jeff Koons of party planning.

We went to snoop.

The book GdeV Studio (husband and me) is  doing on Miami had just reached a point of critical mass – the days that Versace fell in love with South Beach, and built his pallazzo from ruins on Ocean Drive among the  locations trucks, NY models, Jewish retirees and crack dealers…

The VAULT launch party was the perfect pretense to have a mosey

While a boxing ring the size of a  cereal box was being lowered from 11th Street into the infamous swimming pool courtyard by a 100 ft crane (for a 3 round boxing match between a supermodel-by-day/boxer-by-night and an I’ll-fuck-your-face-up-bad boxer, which the spoiled crowd watched with as much fervor as if they were watching Jo Biden eating oatmeal) we wandered into the Villa’s inner courtyard and climbed the stairs all the way to the roof, to Gianni’s lair inside the watchtower  strewn with pillows and overlooking Ocean Drive, the beach and the Atlantic Ocean. When Alastair trespassed further he was confronted by what may have been a ghost of nineties security, a  Men-in-Black guard with the charm of Scarface.

A standoff on the Pallazzo rampart ensued.

Patrolled Versace Villa rampart

The Architectural Critic versus  the Blackwater Mercenary

(Culturally way more interesting than what was going on below in that tiny boxing ring)

I felt a chill and flashed on Alastair being thrown off the roof and me becoming another lonely widow spawned by South Beach debauchery ( Donatella being so much the brand-widow of Versace)

After chest puffing and rank pulling Blackwater won and we descended back down to where the mortals were allowed and found a quiet pocket of civility – a small wood-paneled bar that was deliciosuly air conditioned and served a variety of pink wine and champagne. Only two people had discovered it before us.

Nanci and Louis.

Alastair joked that the palazzo was  ground zero of Miami decadence and Nanci complemented my dress

In typical Miami Beach style, the evening turned on itself.

Degrees of separation were discovered that ranged from Lawrenceville to the Berkshires, high powered careers in NYC,, friends and children and a shared fascination with  life on the beach in all its excesses.

Nanci was interested in my work as an activist designer but then again she was a New Yorker

turquoise monofilament drift rope bracelet

Two weeks earlier I had rushed back from  Eleuthera because I’d been invited to be part of a  Miami Beach sustainable fashion show and award ceremony called Sustainatopia

I had made my “red carpet” dress in Eleuthera and Iona would be my model

But when we arrived it was clear that the event was as awkward as the name suggested

We hung around backstage at the Fillmore for a while but when no one seemed to know about the staging or order of show we turned around and went home. I dont think anyone ever missed us and I’d spared my 15-year-old daughter from an embarrassing cat walk across a vast and empty stage…

I was a bit sad because she looked so beautiful

Iona in the Plastic is Forever “red carpet” dress

But nothing could bring me down from my Eleuthera high and I looked forward to speaking the next day at the Impact Conference, where Pam Longobardi, Cynthia La Grou and I were billed as a panel about Envisioning Alternatives in Social Investing.

What the hell did that mean?

Hadn’t we prepared to each speak about  Driving a New Economy through the Arts, Design and Media and addressing the problem of plastic pollution? John Rosser, the organizer of  the sustainable conference, confessed  he’d  changed our title because he felt he’d  “taken a risk alienating his core constituency on our behalf.”

WTF?

FEAR?

Fear of being too green?

Fear of being too sustainable?

The fear of being unsexy in Miami and being taken for a hippie in this city full of glamor addicts.

But wasn’t he the organizer? If not him then who?

Oh well, for the party after the panel I’d  curated a small show at the Botanical Gardens and about a hundred people came to see…

Pam’s drift web installation in the Banyan Tree

Pam Longobardi drift web made from marine debris. Photo by Myra Wexler

Richard and Judith Lang photographs

red beach plastic tags collected and photographed by Richard and Judith Lang.

My new piece, from neck size to wall size, a large wall installation

rainbow strings of beach plastic

Bucking all sustainable trends like recycling and green design  Miami has turned out to be unexpectedly mercurial

Whereas Eleuthera has been surprisingly supportive and open

Soon I will go north for the summer

But I’m determined to overcome my conversation-killer stigma when I’m back next year …

Beach plastic cross bracelet with grey seed pearls


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Art for the Revolutionary….

Picasso sculpture

99% of the art at Art Basel Miami was for the 1%, the remaining 1% was for the 99%.

You get the math?

Global capitalism at work! Consumerism in overdrive, showcasing the trickle-down effect to a select few formerly starving artists (most now dead) and their Prada clad uber dealers. Selling masterpieces or rather masturbation pieces to the super rich.

But where is this irony reflected? Is a Picasso still a radical challenge to the status quo? Where is the new rage?

This commodification of status art is boring. The endless (and I mean endless) rows of mind-dulling booths with static canvasses, photos, installations, sculptures and hangings is so overwhelming that it’s impossible to recognize the good from the bad from the new from the old.

Picassos, three in one booth, look blah, Calder, Delaunay, Miro, feel like so what? An entire gallery filled with about 200 original Warhols, cute but can we go home now…

To present art, some great art, as interior decorating like an all-you-can-eat art buffet to binging collectors in  the same space that held the car show just a few weeks ago and the boat show next month diminishes its cultural and historical value. Just because the creamiest 1% of the 1% cream have agreed to agree, leaving nothing to chance. Their millions safe within the vaults of  big brand investment art.

intertwined tires made from black marble

Design Miami was nestled like a co-dependent snooty mistress in a tent alongside the massive convention center.

Design Miami used to be in the Design District, where this year the Buckminster Fuller Dome and Dymaxion car where re-created by Sir Norman Foster making an inspired statement for inventive design that reflects past and future. Art Basel Inc. has taken over Design Miami and keeps it close to their all-encompassing police-state-of-the-art campus, with Schwarzenegger-esque guards who look like they will pepper-spray anyone that does not meet the  humorless Swiss code of conduct.

photo: Alastair Gordon

Design Miami houses designers. Or rather galleries who sell the work of furniture, jewelry, lighting, life-style designers. No art allowed in this building. Just design. One booth had two blank walls with nails where their fifties wall weavings would have hung had it not been for the style police deeming them to be art and  forbidding the gallery to sell them.

So, you may wonder, what happened to art that says fuck you to all this monitoring, keeping track and bourgeois judging of what should live and what should not?

Where is the To Create Art is To Burn Alive spirit behind this snob spectacle?

Where is the devil-may-care, I have the urge to get lost, give me a piece of wood, a canvas, a block of clay and I’ll see you next year, spirit of the artist?

Sanitized! Lobotomized! Exorcized!

Even the satellite shows with younger and edgier work were eager to register on the luxury radar, and attract those god-like collectors who  spread the magic gold that makes or breaks careers.

Baseled Barbi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still there was the upside that  the remaining 1% of art was for the remaining 99%

This 1% was getting dirty in Wynwood where another set of walls had been given up to artists who painted manically, obsessively grinding and wielding their cans, sprays and ladders.

picture by John Wendelbo

Above  a collaboration:  john wendelbo / Mare139, 

The 99% was there, in the street, raw energy alive with loud music, swanning the galleries, eating from food trucks, dancing, taking pictures, making movies, kissing, noisy, funny, sexy, young…

And the art was there on the walls, being created in the moment for everyone to see – a democracy of participation.

No luxury price tags.

Unavailable for ownership.

Art that hopefully foreshadows an awakening to a time where status is lost, luxury deemed boring and boundless creativity – like anything – is possible…again.

what is real


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Barbi does NYC on July 4th

Its my 25th NYC anniversary.

Twenty-five years ago, July 4th weekend 1986, I moved to NYC.

It was Liberty Weekend, the weekend of the 200 year celebration of the restoration and centenary of the Statue of Liberty. I arrived here, in the energy axis, in the exact same place, same loft, same bedroom, as I am now.

Cause for reminiscence I’d say.

So:

I came here alone, a cast-off from the London fashion recession which hit as suddenly as a tsunami and swept me and several other designers out to fashion purgatory, doors to my studio bolted shut by my backers, denying me access to stuff like my life-long button collection which they would sell to some rag trade vulture for a few bob.

All because within six months, the magic fashion calendar in which fortunes changes for reasons ranging from a bad review, a wayward fabric shipment, a biggest customer going bust, a factory forgetting to produce an entire order to a performance anxiety related nervous breakdown ( you are only as good as your last collection and your last collection is never good enough),  the exchange rate changed and the pound got stronger, the dollar weaker and all of a sudden those golden American buyers who brought me 50% of my business, decided to “skip” London.

WANTED - my gangsta collection

Suzy Menkes (London Times and Herald Tribune) announced that London designers were out of control, unruly children who needed to be punished until they started treating fashion as a business.

Bullshit!

For several years they had loved our (Malcolm Mc Laren led) anarchic style. It made for great window dressing, and those US windows were enough to keep all of  us  creative maniacs going.

But Suzy decreed we were so passe´, fashion changed into a grown-up place and the new crop of celebrity designers followed.

Never one to sit around in the here and now, I was already in my future (It was not until later that I shed a tear over that lost button collection). I followed the money. I went to NYC where they loved me, and I’d heard that designers could be paid as much as $75.000 a year. I was sick of making do on £12,000 several thousands less than my superstar PR was taking from my business while putting Menkes’ poison in my backers ear.

from a softer collection

Never mind.

NYC welcomed me with a party.

Three-days of festivities, right here at the loft home of my  friends Murray and Gail Bruce.

I felt like I’d landed in a castle in the sky, their 13th floor penthouse with its massive deck and windows all around with views of the celebrated Statue of Liberty, the Hudson river filled with flag-flying boats,the  Twin Towers and to the north-east the Empire state building and the rest of Manhattan.

Their friends (who soon became mine) came from all over the world arrived and stayed. A dorm with dozens of cots was set up in one of the spaces but not much sleeping took place. It was a hippie-like love fest, a free-for-all celebration so typical of the Bruces’ all-embracing style.

I made friends that first weekend who now, 25 years later, are still among my dearest, like  Vicky and Ed, and their daughters, one of whom, Mika, became my twin’s god mother.

I met a  crop of potential boyfriends who kept me busy dating (a concept so different from getting to know guys in Europe)  till I met my husband four years later. Some dear friends have since passed on. Lenny, Bill, Michelle, Norma and recently Midge Steadman. Midge helped me believe in magic and introduced my practical and industrious Dutch soul to an aspect of itself as yet undiscovered: My spirituality.

Midge gave me crystals, passed me to Ashtiana, her Shaman, who in turn helped me enlighten my life, Midge took me to sweat lodges, witches circles, lend me her New Age books, and taught me the medicine wheel, rebirthing, and how to use a smudge stick to erase bad energy from the past.

Midge Steadman

It takes what it takes and these were the tools it took for me to become a woman who could  finally trust and commit to love, marry, have children and experience the passage of time without fear of its failures.

This Independence Day weekend the loft is quiet.

Now that I’m writing this memoir I think that maybe I should’ve thrown a party celebrating 25 years of Barbi in the US of A.

But I don’t look back much.  Not in a speeches and cream kind of way.

I am in awe of these past 25 years however.

How I lie here, same room, same place, and in the next room sleeps my daughter.

A young woman who will turn 15 on Monday,  July 4th 2011.

In the last week she has followed in my foot steps like an adolescent aboriginal sent walk-about on her mother’s turf  (she was part of  a Summer Solstice witches circle on her first night at the loft, posting on her FB status that she is now officially a witch).

Iona is an intern here, with Gail,  my American mentor and her two assistants, Carly and Camryn, in the space that was the inspiration for all the houses she grew up in.

Gail, the only one who called me Barbi

It is so natural for her to be here, so predestined, that words like imprinting, heritage, family, evolution and even love do not capture what seems as inevitable as breast feeding, her first steps in the sand of our Amagansett beach, letting go of her little hand as she entered her first class room (she hesitant then, me hesitant now),  her first sleep-over, money earned and spent, boy friend, her gradual path to independence.

Last night on our way to dinner, we went down and walked out of the building.

For 25 years I have turned right to walk to Hudson Street but Iona turned left.

I followed her….

Iona, my muse and guide


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Barbi Feels Miami’s Dark Side…

me

Could it be that the much talked and anticipated (by some) Rapture is just one interpretation of a long predicted energy shift in our universe that brings chaos to our sense of safety?

Certainly the people that were sucked from their cars to the heavens, in Joplin last week, must have wondered if this was the end of the world.

It was the end of their world.

My ten-year-old twin’s sense of safety was rocked ten days ago when, for career week, a neurosurgeon was brought in by their Elementary school to give a presentation. I guess the school was glad to get a surgeon (an honorable career) after a series of career presentations by corporations like Burger King who use these weeks as an opportunity for marketing and recruiting.

I had done my own presentation, on how to be a fashion designer, earlier in the week. The one I did at Lynn University last March. Only for the Elementary students I spend hours removing all traces of sex from my PowerPoint. Kate Moss’ breasts and Marky’s pecks were replaced with more demure image like Claudia Schiffer in a cozy CK cardigan.

(I wasn’t going to give that righteous principal a reason to call me into her office…)

The neurosurgeon with (what should have been) a red flag name and title – Dr. Wolf from the Miami Knife Center – was less enlightened to the minds of fifth graders when he put together his PowerPoint.

He surprised them all, teachers and children.

Just imagine: One hundred and thirty ten-year-old boys and girls filing into the auditorium, laughing and joking, happy to be let out of their classroom, sitting together, seeking out friends, and then the theatre goes dark and Dr. Wolf starts his show.

The room goes quiet with the first image. It is a pencil stuck deep into an eye. The next image is a bloody brain spilling from a split skull – motor cycle accident, Dr. Wolf explains. It goes on. Dozens more gory bloody images follow, from gunshots to a toothbrush in an eye socket. (How did that get there Mom?)

Kids feel faint. Kids feel nauseous. Kids leave the auditorium escorted by adults to get air and water. To throw up in trash cans. Some kids cry. Most of them just hide their faces in their friend’s shoulders or behind their hands, make jokes and try to make each other laugh.

One of my daughters sat by herself, without friends to distract her.

When she got into my car, at the end of the day, she burst into tears. That night she would not brush her teeth (did she imagine her unruly toothbrush ending up  inside her skull?). She had bad dreams, threw up in the morning and for the next few day she would not eat, nauseous from the images that still played around her mind.

I had spend ten years carefully protecting her from this kind of stuff and within ten minutes Dr. Wolf had undone all that parenting.

You may think I exaggerate. Some parents certainly did not seem as bothered as I was. But many were equally upset and angry and complained.

A few days later one teacher apologized to her class and said:

“Raise your hands if you have been mentally scarred.”

The point that was neglected, I think, is that schools have to feel safe for kids. They need stability, nurturing even predictability to do well, and Dr. Wolf’s graphic X-rated ambush took with it some of their innocence and trust.

I told the other parents I would write a letter to Dr. Wolf explaining, politely, that his show was not age appropriate for fifth graders. That he should keep it for his med students who had made a career choice.

But.

When I read the tag line on his website about the Gamma Knife which he’d developed…

” The Gamma knife is more accurate, efficient and faster and works on more than just brain tumors”

I thought maybe not….

*

A few days later, as the emotions Dr. Wolf had stirred up subsided, I found myself downtown Miami. I had lunch with a friend at Little Lotus, shopped for fabric and jewelry supplies and was waiting to cross the street.

Spacing out.

Like one does.

When waiting for the pedestrian light to change.

Not feeling safe nor unsafe.

Just waiting.

Next I felt a searing pain go through my nose.

A bold skull hit me.

Hard and fast.

I saw stars.

I stumbled.

Shit! What the fuck? I thought, and, don’t pass out…

I looked at him. A short man, unshaven, homeless? He’d run into me, carrying a metal cane, a weapon?  and kept running as I stood – reeling.

Was I being mugged?

My bag was still on my shoulder.

My nose hurt. Was it bleeding? I felt the left inside nostril closing up.

Ice. I needed Ice.

I got it at a coffeeshop.

I drove home, ice pack pressed to my face, eyesight swimming.

I went to bed.

Rattled.

*

Two days later, the swelling had disappeared, I was at my desk, working.

Sirens, so common in Miami, stopped abruptly.

Right here it seemed.

I went onto my terrace and saw several police cars and an ambulance entering our gate.

Later that day I found out that a friend and neighbor had died suddenly, in his apartment, leaving behind his lovely young wife and six-year-old son. Iona used to baby-sit for them. His wife is my friend. I have not heard from her and can only imagine what she’s going through. I think of every moment we spent together, like the dinners, time by the pool and at their house in the Keys.

Isn’t that what we do when friends pass? We think of them, bring them closer than ever before so we can let them go…?

*

Yesterday.

I was working at my desk.

And there were sirens. Hundreds of them it seemed. Their noise came towards me as it does, but then they did not fade.

They seemed to stop.

Right here.

Again.

I looked from the window and saw fire engines and ambulances enter.

Oh fuck!

A helicopter appeared from nowhere and hovered overhead.

I went outside.

It was right over me. A news helicopter.

As I went back inside the girls came running down from their room.

“Mom, mom, there is a house on fire, right here in Aqua, we can see the smoke..”

We ran into the street, onto the quay along Indian Creek, and there at the end of Aqua island, in the water, was a sky high blaze, 30 feet flames lapping the air, black smoke billowing, and popping explosions came from the hull of the yacht.

Dozens of curious boats kept a cautious distance.

We walked down slowly as it seemed to be drifting into the tip of our island.

One police boat got close enough to throw a hook and slowly pulled the yacht away from our shore.

For the next forty minutes we watched the dousing of the fire as hoses pointed their spray from the gardens of the mansions on Pine Tree Drive.

We saw it all from our pool and found out  that the family on the boat, a mother, father and two kids had jumped into the water and were picked up by another boat,  leaving their burning vessel to drift down Indian Creek towards our pool area, gas and propane tanks exploding one at a time.

For local news footage of the fire click here

Then, last night, I went to a dinner party.

Alone, since husband is already back in PA.

I had not realized until I walked into Iran’s new apartment how weird and out of it I really felt.

I was completely discombobulated.

And completely unaware how these surreal events had affected me because I’d been with my kids throughout, trying to shield  and keep them safe.

I walked in and wanted to find an adult shoulder to fall and cry on.

But.

This was the glam Miami party crowd.

So fun. So rich. So beautiful.

I was an alien.

I was hardly able to speak.

Like string an interesting, funny, flirty sentence together.

The freaked-out tabby kitten in a room full of playful Persian sex kittens…

sexy Persian kitten...