Sorry we’ve been a bit out of touch, but we have a big excuse. Well, several. The good news is Elisa and I have been putting a new project together that we expect to tell you about very soon. The other good news is that Elisa is really in love, which is also part of the problem.
The bad news is written all over her face: we’ve also had a bit of a nightmare getting Elisa’s weight under control. Probably the joy of being in love plus the stress of developing our new show have taken their toll and, well, you can see for yourself. If you’re wondering why the second season of Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys moved to Nashville, frankly it’s because Sundance took one look at what has happened my poor Elisa and they decided it was easier to change cities then deal with the multitude of problems her sudden weight gain creates. Believe me, folks, I went to bat for her and stood up to the network. I showed them pretty pictures of big boned gals we adore like Ann Wilson, Linda Ronstadt and Kathy Najimy, but I found those supposedly progressive executives implacable and unsympathetic. Understandably, she is a bit self-conscious and she feels bad that she fucked up the Sundance thing, but I told her it’s not really her fault the executives at Sundance are haters.
Anyway, the really good news is that even as I type this, Elisa is at Canyon Ranch getting a handle on her issues and has already dropped two pounds! In the meanwhile, please join me in sending her your best wishes, (but please don’t send her anything edible.) If our new show doesn’t get sold, there is always The Biggest Loser! – David
MISS CASAS is wearing Citizens of Humanity denim, Free People Indian cotton dress worn as a shirt, 70s peep-toe shoes, Patricia Smith Moonbag and Edwardian sterling chatelaine chain. MR. MUNK is wearing a Kangol straw hat, a 1970s suit vest, his stepfather’s silk pocket square from the 1960s, a 197os belt, J. Crew chino shorts, 1970s harness boots and 1920s sock garters (see detail).
As my birthday approaches (Monday), I’m reminded of some special gifts that David has given me. He’s always been incredibly creative when it comes to gifts, and after 28 years of birthdays, I’ve been lucky enough to be the recipient of some amazing items…and gestures. For my 43rd birthday, his gift to me was a visit to his cousin’s house in Laurel Canyon, which he had been renting from Joni Mitchell. David knew of my decades-long obsession with her and decided it was the perfect gift. It was.
Joni bought the little house at 8217 Lookout Mountain in the Spring of 1968 with the royalties from her first album, “Song to a Seagull.” She met Graham Nash, who was visiting from the UK with his band, The Hollies, shortly after she purchased it, and by July they were living there together. Joni’s house soon became THE place where Laurel Canyon-dwelling musicians hung out (when David Crosby and Stephen Stills dropped by one night, Crosby, Stills and Nash was born.)
When I “cashed in” my birthday gift and went there with my friend Debra on July 11, 2009, we immediately became enveloped in the history of the house. Although Joni hadn’t lived there since the 70s, she had a very deep connection to the house and held on to it for sentimental reasons. One of the things that drew musicians like Joni to Laurel Canyon was (and continues to be) its sense of isolation. Even though geographically it’s right in the middle of Los Angeles, the houses are completely hidden from the road, surrounded by indigenous foliage, quiet and private. Yet five minutes after we drove down the canyon, we were battling rush-hour traffic on Sunset Blvd.
Joni and Graham lived an idyllic 60s lifestyle: they sat around writing songs, bouncing ideas around, painting, reveling in each others’ presence and indulging in the creative atmosphere of Laurel Canyon. Graham wrote, “Our House” one morning after they returned from food shopping at the farmer’s market:
“I’ll light the fire, You put the flowers in the vase, That you bought today, Staring at the fire, For hours and hours While I listen to you, Play your love songs, All night long for me, Only for me, Come to me now, And rest your head for just five minutes, Everything is good, Such a cozy room, The windows are illuminated, By the sunshine through them, Fiery gems for you, Only for you, Our house is a very, very fine house, With two cats in the yard, Life used to be so hard, Now everything is easy, ‘Cause of you.”
Hearing “Our House” for the first time as an adolescent was a revelation for me. I still think it’s one of the most beautiful love songs ever written, a poignant snapshot of domestic bliss. Being in the actual house, that cozy room, seeing the fireplace, the illuminated windows, and imagining the beauty of the moment when Graham was inspired to write it transported me back in time.
Joni created her best work in that house, including all the songs for “Blue,” “For the Roses” and “Ladies of the Canyon,” which included, “Willy” (Graham’s nickname, and one of my favorite Joni Mitchell songs, written when Joni started to have doubts about the future of their relationship):
“Willy is my child, he is my father, I would be his lady all my life, He says he’d love to live with me, But for an ancient injury, That has not healed, He said I feel once again, Like I gave my heart too soon, He stood looking through the lace, At the face on the conquered moon, And counting all the cars going up the hill, And the stars on my window sill, There are still more reasons why I love him. Willy is my joy, he is my sorrow, Now he wants to run away and hide, He says our love cannot be real, He cannot hear the chapel’s pealing silver bells, But you know it’s hard to tell, When you’re in the spell if it’s wrong or if it’s real, But you’re bound to lose, If you let the blues get you scared to feel. And I feel like I’m just being born, Like a shiny light breaking in a storm, There are so many reasons why I love him.”
Canned Heat lived next door to Joni and Graham in a house that burned to the ground in 1969. Joni was deeply affected by the fire and felt that divine intervention had spared her home. 40 years later, when David’s cousin moved in, she gave him explicit instructions not to clean the front door which still held soot from the fire in its crevices. Joni felt that door had prevented the fire from spreading to her house, and she treated it like an altar.
Debra and I spent a long time at the house, enjoying the late-day sunshine and the familiar surprises around every corner (like the view out the window that Joni painted for the “Ladies of the Canyon” album cover.) We took lots of photos and remarked how little the neighborhood and the house had changed since Joni had bought it forty years previously. A new generation of musicians has moved in (Rick Rubin’s “mansion” is next door to Joni’s house) but the hippie vibe remains.
Joni was fearful that marriage would stifle her creativity. Although she and Graham were deeply in love, she wasn’t willing to commit to marriage. But in the year that they were together in her house, they both created some of the best music of their careers. She remained fiercely independent throughout her life, staying true to herself even when the critics disagreed with her musical choices.
Thank you, David, for a once-in-a-lifetime gift I will never forget!
ELISA is wearing a 70s off-the-shoulder gauze blouse, 70s customized denim mini, 70s ethnic choker, Oliver Peoples aviators and 90s Marni wedges. DAVID is wearing Buckler jeans, “America, I like You” 70s shirt, 70s scrimshaw necklace, 60s spectator shoes and his handmade patchwork hat.
One of the most far-fetched, least believable moments on the first season of our show, Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, was when Sarah “you-didn’t-know-I-was-so-hard-up-for-a-date-until-I-went-on-national-television-and-told-you-a-million-times” Rose actually did go on a blind date with a dashing, charismatic fellow. After having what seems like a pleasant enough time, (especially considering the crushing weight of her impending spinsterhood), she blithely dismissed him because he has an aversion to touching the hardware on the subway. Huh?
I found this curious because after watching poor Sarah kvetch for eight episodes about being a one-woman lonely hearts club, it seemed peculiar to drop this guy like a hot potato for a mere quirk, especially a quirk that I think is surprisingly common (which I guess would technically disqualify it as a quirk at all and make it more of a characteristic). In a rare moment of reality show authenticity, Sarah gave us some insight as to why she doesn’t go on a date unless it’s arranged by the production company.
But I digress. Back to the subway. I identified with Sarah’s date. I will grab onto anything before touching the hardware on a train, which I think of more as petri dishes. In the winter its easy because I wear gloves, but, if necessary, I will hold the pole with a magazine or the cuff of my shirt rather than with my hand. In moments of extreme difficulty, I have been known to push up to the ceiling with my knuckles like a human tension rod rather than grab a pole. Or I hang onto friends. In moments of great desperation, in a feat of core strength that would make my trainer proud, I hold on to nothing at all and try to ride the rails like a surfer (this is the most risky approach as it can easily lead to disaster).
Do you think this is odd? Consider this: in thirty years in New York City, I have never, but never, seen an MTA worker clean the hardware. I have however, seen hundreds of nose pickers, nail clippers, drunk people vomiting, and that’s just the people with homes! Consider too that the last stop on the E train, Chambers Street (which will soon service the Freedom Tower), is a de-facto bathroom for those less fortunate or those too lazy or drunk to find a proper facility. How do I know? Well, friends, let’s just say mine eyes have seen the gory.
If you read this blog regularly, you know how I feel about the flip flop people – those individuals for whom life is a perpetual casual Friday. So casual, in fact, that they walk around in vomit, leaking McDonald’s trash bag juice and dog urine in a collective delusion that the streets of Manhattan are a Mediterranean beach. Yeah, well life’s a beach till little Cindy Lou gets impetigo!
When it comes to kicks, I kick it old school. I was taught to keep my bare feet as far away the filth of the city streets as possible. Go ahead and say ”hey Dave, loosen up!” You call it neurotic and I call it common sense. I wonder what percentage of the flip flop people return home after a long day walking around the steamy city essentially barefoot and get in bed without washing their feet. I don’t know but I would love to see some data.
So why am I writing all this? Because though it takes a lot to shock me, this morning I witnessed something on the train that probably set a new high benchmark of nasty funk. Yes my friends, just when you thought you’d seen it all, a skanky girl wearing Daisy Dukes goes and sits on the floor of the train with her bare ass!!! – DAVID
ELISA is wearing a 90s grunge dress, Absinthe cashmere shrug, 70s harness boots, H&M socks and 70s leather cuff. DAVID is wearing 80s customized denim vest, G. Star denim, Kangol cap, 80s leather cuff, Puma Clydes, and Sol Moscott Lemtoshes. Eating the first Italian Ices of the season!
ELISA is wearing a 70s jersey dress with crochet inserts, 70s motorcycle boots, 70s pendant and Laura Michaels key. DAVID is wearing a 70s button down shirt, 70s Timex watch, straw hat from Orchard Street, 70s Lee jeans and Sol Moscot Lemtoshes.