Darrah singing “Johnny Angel” by Shelly Fabares
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“Life teaches you how to live, if you live long enough.” Tony Bennett in AMY
Tonight, I watched the Amy Winehouse documentary, AMY about the life and death of jazz and neo-soul singer Amy Winehouse, directed by Asif Kapadia. The two-hour-doc is pieced together using sometimes shaky and ultra-closeup archival footage shot by her ex-manager and friend, Nick Shymanksy and ex-husband Blake Fielder. There was also a lot of paparazzi footage, which feels ironic and somewhat tragic given how the media tormented her. The story chronicles relevant dates. Concert dates, party dates, holidays, drug binges, award shows. There are never-before-heard songs and Amy narrates the journey from fourteen-year-old live wire raised by a single Jewish mother in London, to a six-time Grammy-winning vocal virtuoso.
Amy Winehouse was 27 when she died, on July 23rd. My birthday. For some reason, that always feels eerie–when you hear that someone died on the day you were born. You feel inextricably linked. Well, I already loved her music, her lyrics mostly and her voice: honest, gravelly, undulating into your flesh only to wrench your soul.
Amy struggled for years with bulimia and later alcohol and drug addiction. It feels too easy to blame her family, who she told about her eating disorders early on, and did nothing. It’s striking, however, how much those around her tried to fight and save this woman they called a friend, and loved so much.
The evening Amy Winehouse won five Grammy’s, including one win announced by her idol Tony Bennett (who she later recorded Grammy-winning “Body and Soul” with for Duets II), she told her friend Juliette Ashby something that shouldn’t have shocked me, but did. She said, “Julie, this is so boring without drugs.”
Going into watching this film, I was prepared to hate her allegedly money-grabbing, fame-whoring father, Mitch Winehouse; I was prepared to hate her ex-husband Blake Fielder for turning her onto crack and heroine–even injecting her in a hospital bed between doctor’s visits; I was prepared to cry and twinge in frustration and disgust at the demise of a star.
Instead, I was reminded of paparazzi field-days resulting in emblazoned headlines in major tabloids like The Sun. I was reassured that an addict can’t stop unless they’re ready, and even if they’re ready, they can be dragged down by their addict boyfriends. And that sometimes it takes three times and sometimes, even that doesn’t work. I felt an unexpected thickness to my skin. I didn’t cry. I felt consistently sad, but also in awe of Amy’s talent, her ferocious kindness and generosity, her open heart, her knowledge of jazz, her true friendships with artists like Mos Def and Questlove and her fallibility. At 27 she said goodbye to the world, but also goodbye to the pain and misery of living a life she wasn’t holding the reins to anymore. Spiraled out of control, she died the way she lived.
Amy Winehouse became a thing. A thing to listen to. A thing for record company CEOs to sell. A thing for managers to carry, asleep, into a car headed to an airport, only to wake on a plane to Serbia for a concert. She became a thing to her husband: a gravy train. She became a thing to gawk at, as evidenced by the bronze and wax statues of her that have been erected. And she became a thing to herself. Unable to vocalize her needs, Amy became a dispensary of alcohol and drugs. Sometimes, even when she did speak up, such as the famed failed concert in Belgrade, which she begged to get out of, nobody listened. She rarely advocated for herself and few others did either. With an absentee father growing up, she spent a decade trying to make peace with men. Her tattoo “Daddy’s Girl” rang true, especially when she tried to pacify her father, who brought reality show cameras to St. Lucia during an extended detox vacation and then reprimanded her for not wanting to pose for a fan photo.
Amy Winehouse had an indelible effect on musicians like Adele, Lady Gaga, Florence Welch, Jessie J and Ellie Goulding. Her self-referential “Back to Black” was the final CD purchased before the last Tower Records in Israel closed. There is a mural of her in Barcelona, Spain. Still, amid her last words, she told her bodyguard and friend Andrew Morris that she would give away her gift of voice to be able to walk down the street and be left alone.
AMY has become the highest grossing British documentary film of all time, as it opened with a box office of £3 million on its first weekend.
Are you a fan of Amy Winehouse? What legacy did she leave in your eyes? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Thanks for reading.
Cannes award-winning documentary filmmaker Cassie Jaye (Daddy I Do) has traveled the country documenting members of the controversial, mostly online, group The Men’s Rights Movement or MRAs for her feature documentary The Red Pill.
Heralding Alice’s fall down the “rabbit hole”, the feminist filmmaker follows the MRAs to protests, sits with them in their homes and delves into issues such as circumcision, abortion, incarceration, suicide, father’s rights and birth control, to name a few. She also interviews leading feminists for the other side’s take on gender politics.The journey makes Jaye question her own beliefs.
Cassie says, “I’m very excited to start sharing my third feature documentary “The Red Pill” with the world, but we still need to raise finishing funds. I hope you’ll support our Kickstarter campaign and help spread the word!”
While VERY pregnant, I was interviewed for The Red Pill, representing the “feminist” half of this groundbreaking new film. Hearing some of the unique perspectives of men I’d never met, and engaging in an hours-long conversation with Jaye made me reexamine a lot of my own longstanding feminist beliefs, and further embrace my life’s mission statement: to attain unity with men and more compassion for all beings. It raised questions I still don’t have answers to, and personally — I can’t wait to see the film in its entirety!
PLEASE share this on your Facebook and Twitter, pin it to your Pinterest and of course, donate to RED PILL’s Kickstarter page! Every $ counts! ;) Thanks for your support! XOX
Last night, my man and I shamelessly ventured downtown to the Staples Center to rock out with a bunch of parents and their six to sixteen-year-old children during the Los Angeles debut of Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour. OK, OK, you’re right, there were plenty of twenty-somethings there too. Most fans wore glowing Christmas lights tied around their waists, while groups of girls were bedecked with lit signs that, when pieced together, spelled out the name of either their song request, their nickname for Taylor (Baelor was one; a combo of bae and Taylor) or simply an 8×10 of Calvin Harris, Swift’s current beau.
Kicking off the first of five sold-out shows at the Staples Center this week, the leggy blonde with perfect features and pouty, signature red lips opened the two-hour long show with a bang, singing “Welcome To New York,” her anthem to the city that never sleeps and her new home with whom she was endlessly inspired to write her first full-length pop album, 1989. One of the two guest appearances of the evening included Ryan Tedder, of OneRepublic, a co-producer and co-writer on the album. They sang his hit “Counting Stars,” her only duet of the evening. The five-time platinum album, 1989, consists of drum programming, synthesizers, pulsating bass, processed backing vocals, and guitars — an important departure from her country roots.
The 25-year old powerhouse, who has graced magazine’s top whatever lists, also brought Apple to its knees earlier this year by gracefully yet succinctly insisting that they pay their artists for Apple Music’s free three-month trial period. The streaming service agreed within 18 hours of her Tumblr post.
Now a pop diva filling 15,000 seat stadiums, her show included twelve costume changes, bracelets and lights sold to audience members that were all synchronized and flashed color and white at the same time, a beast of a T-bone stage that both levitated, lit up and traveled all directions while she and her mob of shirtless male back up dancers were tied to it by poles. She lip-syncs some of the time, which is forgivable because she’s moving, dancing, and posturing so much. There are a lot of pre-recorded backing vocals that she adds verses to, and while her vocals are sometimes stunning, they are often quite mediocre. Again, forgivable, due to the fact that she is such an incredible performer, songwriter, producer and all-around interesting self-sustained human. Plus, she is delightful to gaze at, and she struts the stage like a catwalk.
Swift intercepts the flow of songs with pre-recorded videos of her girl squad (think opening act Haim, V.S. model Lily Aldridge, B.F.F. Karlie Kloss, Paper Towns actress Cara Delevingne, and Girls star Lena Dunham) with P.S.A.-type, highly edited footage of them discussing everything from Baelor’s cats, their affinity for eating (which feels contrived, given how thin all of these women are), and how women should have each other’s backs — which I secretly wished would be followed by the Katy Perry dis track “Bad Blood.” An impossibly young looking Selena Gomez hammered home how hard dating is when you’re Taylor Swift and famous and stuff.
Before the show, Swift’s mom surfed the crowd seeking out die-hard Swifties to take back to “Loft 89” after the show for a meet and greet with her daughter. True to her brand, Taylor using her family to lasso fans — or friends, as she calls us — brings warmth to your heart, and bruises to your feet as those aforementioned girls with lights tied around their bodies like butterflies caught in net, trample your feet for a photo with Andrea Swift.
In what is part of an ongoing parade of various guest appearances by girls from her squad and some randoms like Julia Roberts and Joan Baez, on Friday night, during “Style,” her ode to a short-lived relationship with Harry Styles of One Direction, Swift was accompanied onstage by Lakers star Kobe Bryant. He surprised her by revealing a banner commemorating her sixteen full-capacity performances at Staples Center, which is more than any other performer has done in the history of Staples Center. The banner will forever hang alongside the Lakers’.
An all-around enjoyable evening and electric spectacle filled with fun, movement, joy, screaming super fans, and general wholesomeness, Swift paused the pop magic to thank her “friends” profusely for making her so popular, and to give a bit of dating advice. SEE VIDEO BELOW.
Vance Joy and Haim opened.
Taylor Swift will be performing at the Staples Center through Wednesday, August 26th.
For super fans, here is Taylor’s set list from the show:
- Welcome to New York
- New Romantics
- Blank Space
- I Knew You Were Trouble
- I Wish You Would
- How You Get the Girl
- I Know Places
- All You Had to Do Was Stay
- You Are in Love
- Love Story
- This Love
- Bad Blood
- We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
- Enchanted/Wildest Dreams
- Out of the Woods
- Shake It Off
It’s been ages since I blogged, but I assure you that I have a good excuse! This summer has been magical — and crazy! We travelled like mad! Overcoming a fear of traveling to a foreign country, I just returned from Tokyo, where I saw Tim Burton‘s NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS LIVE and enjoyed temple crawls and authentic sushi meals! The plane ride was totally bearable, especially since my honey and I got bumped from business to first class for free on the way home!
We also spent the Fourth of July in NYC and Rhode Island at an AMAZING hotel called Ocean House. It’s two doors down from Taylor Swift’s insane mansion (yes, Tay, that was me with the binoculars). We enjoyed a top-notch, classy discovery called Cracker Barrel (and had to dine there — can it even be called “dining”?? three times in one week). We had a brilliant photo shoot in San Antonio at America’s oldest kiddie park and kicking it all off was a fabulous trip to Maui and Kauai! (My babysitter spied John Mayer in the fitness room of our hotel.)
The fangirl in me just about died hanging out with Will Chase… of “Nashville” fame to Angelenos, and broadway fame to New Yorkers. His girlfriend, Ingrid Michaelson was even more adorkable in person.
At the after party for the MINIONS premiere, I met fucking Jon Hamm.
Most of all, I am feeling grateful for the whirlwind of summer, the love of my family, and the soulful experience of being a mother. What are you feeling grateful for? Have you had a good summer?
Hey guys, I had so much fun filming a few scenes for bestselling zen author Brad Warner’s part-real, part-fiction documentary HARDCORE ZEN. Below is a sneak peek of my role as Debra. If you’re one of the lucky 100 who get the DVD with extras, you’ll get to see me in a super raunchy and funny sex scene.
As part of a very informal press “tour” for the spoof zombie movie, ZOMBIE BOUNTY HUNTER, M.D., I appeared on Goth Comedian Dark Mark’s radio show/podcast at Skidrow Studios about a week ago. Smart and funny Dark Mark and his devilish co-host Josi Kat (Singer for punk band PISS ANT, founder of THE FEARLEADERS, the cheerleading squad to the LA Derby Dolls Roller Derby Team) interviewed me and my blonde, bespectacled co-star Hannah Elizabeth Pierce with director Pirooz Kalayeh. We dished about naughty behind-the-scenes tidbits, dating older men, and later, sideshow performer Whodini sixteenninetytwo showed off his dangerous side.
Watch the full video of our interview below! Listen to the podcast, here.
A little about Goth Comedian Dark Mark: He has hosted at The CONVERGENCE 18 GOTH FESTIVAL, The SAN LUIS OBISBO GOTH FESTIVAL, The DEAD FLESH FEAST HORROR FESTIVAL, The SUNSET STRIP MUSIC FESTIVAL (also featuring Marilyn Manson, Offspring, Bad Religion and De La Soul) as well as Kinky shows at S & M Dungeons and has been featured on Andy Dick Live! Mark has been a 9-time LA Times Comedy pick of the week as well as being a Las Vegas Citylife pick of the week. Mark White has performed with the biggest names in comedy including performers such as Steven Wright, Jerry Seinfeld, Margaret Cho, Dane Cook, Andrew “Dice” Clay, Damon Wayans, Otto and George, Eddie Griffin, Jeff Ross, Maria Bambford, and George Lopez among others.
I had the pleasure of working with director Pirooz Kalayeh (SHOPLIFTING FROM AMERICAN APPAREL) and bestselling Zen author Brad Warner on a fun zombie spoof movie! If you happen to remember, I had a two-day shoot with this team in 2012 as part of HARDCORE ZEN, a mockumentary about Warner’s life as a Zen monk. I played Debra, a Zen groupie.
For ZOMBIE BOUNTY HUNTER, M.D., I play Lara Steele of Steele News, a blogger on a mission, during the zombie apocalypse! Watch the Indiegogo campaign trailer below, and please support us so we can play at festivals and spread our debauchery nationwide!
The Indiegogo fundraiser has some pretty cool perks, such as artwork by Jeffrey Brown (DARTH VADER & SON) digital downloads of the soundtrack featuring SPINDRIFT, autographed books by Brad Warner, and DVDs, Blu Rays, and flash drives with all kinds of extras.
Let me know what you think in the comments!
Thanks & Kiss! xoxo