Monday, September 30, 2019

I’m Always Touched by Her Presence, Dear

Enjoyed spending a couple hours with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein on Monday night at Town Hall, celebrating the release of her “Face It” memoir. After a massive introduction by Penny Arcade, moderator and Blondie collaborator Rob Roth came out with the duo and announced that he envisioned the evening being like "one of the conversations we have on the tour bus" -- and it was, assuming conversations on the tour bus tend to involve a fruitless game of 20 questions. Don't get me wrong -- it was that kind of game where it gets to be so frustrating it's comical! But let's just say any qualms I may have had about giving Debbie's autobiography a lukewarm review were erased when she reminded me -- in the flesh -- that she really has minimal knowledge about her own life.

Roth -- who also designed the book -- did everything but hand Debbie pithy anecdotes on scraps of paper, but still couldn't get a straight answer out of her on just about anything. (With just about anyone else it would have been frustrating. But Deb's so adorable -- looking incredibly pretty in pink -- that it just added to her immeasurable charms.) The closest he came was when he fed her a line about the baby shower she'd thrown for Grace Jones at Studio 54 back in the day. (This is gonna be good!) But the bottle blonde still drew a complete blank, even after stunning the audience by recalling details about a birthday party she'd thrown at Studio 54 for Grace when the Jamaican legend was "extremely pregnant." (Gee, I wonder if they were one and the same?)

Things got measurably better when Fab Five Freddy joined the party -- it seemed to loosen Debbie up, who until this point was letting Chris do the heavy lifting -- reminiscing about taking Debbie and Chris to see up and coming rappers back in the day ("in places where white people just didn't to"). And later he lavished the duo with heartfelt praise for the support they've always shown fellow New York City artists, even when they were on top of the world. One of his best moments was when he told the story of hearing "Rapture" on the radio for the first time. He had first heard it when Chris played it for him in the studio. Freddy was flattered by the name check and recalled thinking Deb's rapping was pretty fly, which drew a shy look from her. But then he said he later heard it on the radio in a cab with Chris and Tina of the Tom Tom Club while in Paris. He thought Blondie had only recorded the song as a "goof" so was stunned when it came on, wondering how the deejay had gotten his hands on it. (The Talking Heads rhythm section had to explain to him that it was actually Blondie's new single!)

The audience was well-behaved -- we had to keep screaming out answers to basic Blondie trivia, as even Chris drew blanks on dates and places -- and managed to ask smart questions all night. (Parker Posey and Mary Louise Parker had sent in two in advance!) Highlight of the evening: Getting an update on those crazy kids Suzy and Jeffrey. Seems they came to say hi at a recent Blondie show and Debbie miraculously remembered who they were! Deb doesn't believe they're a couple anymore -- good thing they didn't bother with that blood test -- but what a hoot to be memorialized by the greatest band of the New Wave!

The book is out now. Read it and let me know what you think.

Clearly, this blonde has more fun.

Remains of the Day (09/30)

ICYMI: My review of Debbie Harry's memoir, which comes out tomorrow

Washington Blade: New HRC president lights up crowd at annual dinner

Baseline: Andy Murray gets caught in cutest traffic jam

The WoW Report: Chelsea Clinton burns Trump on Twitter

Greg in Hollywood: Ricky Martin knocked up his hubby

Metrosource: 10 gay memes that will make you LOL

Medium: Augusten Burroughs's husband on what it's like to be married to a memoirist slash witch

Instagram: I like a guy who leaves little to the imagination

Reuters: Polish police protect LGBT marchers as tensions rise before election

The Stranger: Fox News is melting down over impeachment

Twitter: Pete Buttigieg's mom shares childhood photos in fundraising clip, says she receives anti-gay hate mail at home

NewNowNext: First professional trans boxer is the new face of Everlast

Hot Cat of the Day: "Cat Mooom! He won't stop touching me!"

Mug Shot Monday

Just one question: What the f**k is wrong with THIS GUY?

Weekend Tennis Roundup

Alex De Minaur won his third title of the season and of his career on Sunday, beating the 31-year-old Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in the Huajin Securities Zhuhai Championships final 7-6(4), 6-4. The young Aussie took out Borna Coric and Andy Murray in nail-biters. But I was happy Borna was back on the court after last week's back injury -- and even happier that Murray beat white nationalist Tennsys Sandgren in the first round, Murray's first tour-level win since hip surgery. 

Pablo Carreno Busta lifted his first tour-level trophy in more than two years on Sunday, outlasting Alexander Bublik 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(3) at the Chengdu Open. The 28-year-old didn't even chuck his racket bag across the court once during the event!

If this week is any indication, Aryna Sabalenka has rediscovered the form that propelled her to the Top 10. On Saturday, Sabalenka became the first player to successfully retain the Wuhan Open crown, defeating Alison Riske, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. After splitting the first two sets, the reigning champion stormed ahead in the decider, firing six aces and breaking the American twice to lock up the victory in one hour and 54 minutes. Sabalenka split and then appeared to consider reuniting with her coach, Dmitry Tursunov, during the U.S. Open. The two have been working together at Wuhan, but Sabalenka was by herself the previous week at Guangzhou and found she could not blame others for her problems.

Belgium's Alison Van Uytvanck -- the tour's only openly gay player, if you can believe it -- captured her second title this year, edging Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 at the Tashkent Open in Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan.

And in two notable doubles finals: Sexy Serbs Nikola Cacic and Dusan Lajovic captured their first team title at the Chengdu Open on Sunday, defeating Jonathan Erlich and Fabrice Martin 7-6(9), 3-6, 10-3. Hubba hubba!

Never heard of Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, but I won’t forget them anytime soon.

Was surprised to see Novak is back in action in Tokyo. I know he wants to ensure he gets the yearend No. 1, but thought his left shoulder injury was going to require surgery. Here’s hoping he’s fully recovered. More HERE.

Sure was fun seeing him play doubles with Filip Krajinovic ... even if they blew the match tiebreak again Pavic and Soares.

Around the net: 

Rafael Nadal and longtime girlfriend Maria Francisca Perello are spending their last days of living in sin in the Bahamas ... ahead of their wedding that will take place near Mallorca on Oct. 19. Read HERE.

If Serena's hubby thinks it's a "struggle" for him to be a working parent, he should see what millions of non-billionaires without drivers, cooks, housekeepers, assistants and nannies go through. Read HERE

Not sure, but it looks fun!

Lots of eye candy at the Masters seniors event in Marbella. 

Of course Feliciano López won it all -- isn't he still on the tour?! -- but it was fun to see recently retired David Ferrer,, Tommy Robredo (who is still hanging on in the Challengers) and Tommy Haas in action.

The Asian leg of the tour seems to agree with Karen ...

What the duck? 

Lucky Nemanja Maksic got to massage my Bosnian boyfriend, Damir Dzumhur! He gets his hands on a lot of hot players.

Marton Fucsovics: Practice (or genetics) made him perfect.

Celebrating Serbs!

Song of the Day: 'Sex Crime (1984)' by Eurythmics

I don't know about you, but I rarely find the time to watch all the videos that I'd like to. (Too little time, too much content.) But I'm sure glad I took a few minutes over the weekend to finally take in this interview with Annie Lennox. (If only more people could be like her, and Ari Melber.) Her modesty is sincere -- but way to go for speaking up about this underrated classic!

Page 1 Roundup (09/30)

From the "It's Never Enough" files.

Morning Wood

My friend tried to have a peaceful afternoon at Christopher Street Pier and he has to put up with THIS?

Sunday, September 29, 2019

So Sorry, I Said

‪I owe Nancy Pelosi a huge apology. She knew what she was doing all along timing-wise -- and totally gets why it must be done now, regardless of outcome. As you were, Madam Speaker ... ‬

Speedo Sunday

That's what we call a perfect fit. More of him HERE.

Lowering the Barr

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Saturday 'Stache

Another look HERE.

Friday, September 27, 2019

'Face It,' Debbie Harry's Memoir Is an Uneven Ride for Top Fan

I'll be at Town Hall for the "Face It" Q&A on Monday -- who else is going?

I just read my first review of Debbie Harry's memoir (out Tuesday), in the Washington Post, and I can already see the errors in them are going to be entertaining for Blondie fans. (Sibbie O'Sullivan's poorly framed write-up is mostly positive, but everybody knows acting in a Broadway play about wrestling doesn't make you a "professional wrestler"!) 

To be honest, I've been curious how others would react to the book by my all-time favorite performer because I'm still grappling with my feelings. I have largely resisted saying much as I didn't want to taint it for other fans by admitting that while I loved devouring it, I found myself surprisingly underwhelmed. I say this with some ambivalence, though. I finished it about a month ago and at the time I felt like I wasn't learning anything I didn't already know. Yet when I think back I realize there were quite a few revelations -- many of them horrifying -- mostly having to do with men in her life. (To say "One Way or Another" was inspired by a real-life stalker is the kindest understatement ever!) 

Maybe part of what disappointed me is that the writing wasn't especially compelling. No, not everyone is Patti Smith. But for someone who has such a way with words as song lyrics, there's got to be a better way to express humor and surprise than ending sentences with a "Ha!" I think fans all know Deb is a bit of an oddball -- that's part of her charm. But that doesn't necessarily translate well on paper. (Wait’ll you get to the chapter that’s entirely about thumbs.) And then part of me wonders if I'm simply too close to the subject to even be fair. 

Molly in 1978

With Molly, circa 1986

I remember watching Blondie's "VH1: Behind the Music" with my sister-in-law and her turning to my brother Bill and me and saying: Does she remind you of anyone? I played dumb, but I totally knew the answer she was looking for was our mom.

Before the book even came out, Debbie warned us that her memory isn't very good  -- blame it on the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll! -- and it does show. She says she long resisted writing a memoir for this reason, which is probably why she comes across as a casual observer of her own colorful life. To me, it felt like someone sent her an outline of the major events of her life and she tried to add a line or two to flesh each one out -- only sometimes that was all she could come up with. (Then again, maybe there's nothing more to say about a phone-booth hookup with Eric Emerson than that he has a huge d**k.) This isn't really a slight -- some of us are better at remembering details than others -- but more of an explanation for the way the book reads.

Some of what she wrote about is a bit of a head-scratcher. She included John Waters's quip that "Debbie blinked for two minutes while she was looking after Chris and Madonna stole her career," but that line hasn't gotten any more accurate 30 years later. She also works in a half-hearted dig that Seymour Stein only cared about Madonna when Deb was also on Sire Records. Then writes that "Debravation" (one of her flop solo albums) came out while Madonna was on her "Blond Ambition" tour, which had actually wrapped up three years before. (If she and Madonna really were vying for the same audience, 1993 surely would have been the perfect year for Debbie to swoop back in: Madonna’s career was on its shakiest ground ever then.) And she says that she was offered the Daryl Hannah role in "Blade Runner" -- I’d always read auditioned for -- but then says her record company "wouldn't let" her do it. (Was Louis B. Mayer running Chrysalis Records?) And as she claimed on "Behind the Music," she writes that she believes the reason her solo stuff wasn't successful is because the public was "confused" that it wasn't called Blondie and her labels didn't know how to market her as a solo act. 

But the truth is Blondie had gone out of style by 1982 -- I remember buying “The Hunter” in ninth grade and no one else being into it -- ironically just as visuals (videos!) became paramount. And then "Solo Debbie" was "old" by pop-star standards -- showing up on "Club MTV" looking like a New Wave Phyllis Diller -- and a lot of her solo material simply wasn't anything particularly special. (I say this as her biggest but most realistic fan.) Perhaps what's confusing here is her lack of self-awareness. 

(Speaking of the Material Girl: One minor topic Deb doesn't address is working with Jellybean Benitez on 1985's "Feel the Spin." Rumor has it there was more to the recording sessions but some sort of falling out occurred -- anyone have the scoop?)  

And while she mentioned the Rock &[sic] Roll Hall of Fame dust-up with Frank Infante, she glosses over the dismissal of founding keyboardist (and key songwriter) Jimmy Destri. (He penned "Maria" and the band never had another real hit after he left.) I"m told this may be because saying Destri was let go for drug use (he was) would put her in the uncomfortable position of having to admit that Chris was still a user too, at least during that time. 

But despite the revisionist or just plain wrong history, I did enjoy reading the crazy story about her biological parents, and her attempts to reconnect with them. She’s got an all-too-familiar Phil Spector tale. And the stuff about what motivated Chris and her to make “Koo Koo” with Chic was fascinating, as was her brief Shelley Winters story from the set of “Heavy.” (I also mentioned earlier on my blog about her describing being overly sexualized from the time she was an infant, which was as eye-opening as it was harrowing.)

Debbie Harry snapped in 1983 leaving the supermarket by the tabloids they sell there

Still, for me the chapter about the dark years when Chris was sick, the band broke up and she "lost everything" was worth the price of admission. (Debbie and Chris ended their 13-year romance the same day something else very sad happened in the 212, about which I have also written.) Maybe the trauma is more seared in her brain, or maybe her editor coaxed more out of her because s/he knew it was pivotal. But that section felt like the rawest and most revealing, and is the part that made me so glad she wrote this memoir.


Your Number 1


The NYT confirmed most of what I wrote in my review. It sounds like the book was culled from interviews where I'm sure the collaborator had to feed her information about her own life to pull stuff out of her. As I said, it's not a criticism. Not everyone is good at remembering details -- she was LIVING it. But let's just say it's a limiting factor. Still a worthwhile read for a fan.