Sunday, March 25, 2007
A couple of weeks ago I was walking past Chapters, doing my level best not to go in and spend all of my rent money, when a familiar face beckoned to me from a shelf inside. It was the face above, a face known to a few of you no doubt, which was at one time one of the most familiar faces in the world, and for a good reason.
The fact that the large, lush book it accompanied was remaindered at $14.99 made the sale even before I'd gotten to the front door. Retail therapy, even to the extent I practice it, is still cheaper than psychiatry. At least, that's what I usually tell myself as I find myself in a queue clutching some new treasure. I doubt there's any collection of ephemera anywhere as loved as the one held here at the Pop Culture Institute.
When I was a young homo I was drawn irrevocably to the movies, to the gods and goddesses the medium created back in the day before telephoto lenses could show us every zit on their asses, when the movie studios enforced their oligarchy with liberal helpings of mythmaking and the stars themselves played along, because when you get right down to it, it's nice to be admired.
The book, published in England, is lavish and contains glimpses into Marlene Dietrich's life which were unfamiliar even to me. I kept it beside my bed, and so every day for a week this is how I dragged myself into full consciousness. A couple of evenings that week I took out one of her movies and was then lulled back into unconsciousness by the voice and the face that made her a legend.
In the relentless pursuit of the new, there's something very gratifying about rediscovering something (or someone) I'd once spent countless hours studying. Besides which, what a smart rebuke it was to my own arrogance; I, who thought I knew all there was to know about her, brought up short by the unknowable enigma of the immortal Dietrich.
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