Sunday, September 21, 2014
Friday, September 19, 2014
If you’re a Fashion Police fanatic/Joan Rivers fan, turn on E!, because the network is running an all-day marathon of the show in memory of Joan right now. Joan’s daughter Melissa will appear on special tribute episode at 8 PM ET.
When I started this blog in 2007, its motto was “Wear What You Want” — my way of encouraging peeps to defy what I called the “self-appointed fashion police who snark on anyone who shows a little creativity.” This August 26, as I watched the official Fashion Police show on the MTV Video Music Awards and the Emmys, I thought, for the zillionth time, that I really needed to write a post clarifying that Joan Rivers was not the target of my anti-policing wrath (okay, just this time). Joan was a comedian doing outrageous schtick. (Her unfunny E! cohosts — Kelly Osbourne and Giuliana Rancic — them I have a problem with. I usually enjoy the third cohost, George Kotsiopoulos, because he’s more open-minded and less whiny.)
If Joan had had the late-night network show as she deserved, she’d be riffing off all kinds of current events in her monologue. But, because late night is firmly in the hands of white men in suits, Joan had to focus her talents on the traditionally feminine — and therefore overlooked and disrespected — topic of fashion.
For the zillionth time, I thought, “I’ll get around to writing that post … someday.” I felt like I had all the time in the world because Joan seemed unstoppable. I figured her competitive spirit meant she’d at least tie Betty White for career longevity and Betty is 92. Joan was only 81. I had 11 years to write that post! Except, as we all know, I didn’t. The head of the clinic where Joan went into cardiac arrest after a routine throat endoscopy has already stepped down. Joan’s personal throat doctor, Gwen Korovin, is denying reports that she performed an unauthorized procedure during an examination of Joan’s vocal cords or snapped a selfie of Joan when the star was under sedation. Exactly what happened is still under investigation.
If you want to understand what Joan was like in her later years, watch the 2010 documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, which reveals the comedian’s obsession with working as well as her commitment to her charity work.
To understand what a groundbreaker she was, read the condescending 1965 New York Times review that called Joan “…an unusually bright girl who is overcoming the handicap of a woman comic, looks pretty and blonde and bright and yet manages to make people laugh.” (The review went on to use the word “bright” a third time!)
Here’s Joan on the Ed Sullivan show in 1967 talking about how men have it easier than women when it comes to dating. Note that she says girls have to be “bright”!
Joan came so close to being a big late-night star. After getting her break on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in February 1965, she became his permanent guest host in 1983. She did so well that Fox gave Joan her own show in 1986, opposite Carson’s. It ended in disappointment: She was fired in under a year due to sagging ratings and Carson never spoke to her again. Turning a career downturn into tragedy, Joan’s husband, who’d produced her show, committed suicide just months later. Fox should have stuck it out, the way NBC did in the 1990s when Conan O’Brien’s first show debuted to poor ratings. (Men in suits always catch a break — except when it comes to the crown jewel of the Tonight Show, of course.) You can see how great she was as a host in this 1987 clip of her with the Beastie Boys. She’s like their glamorous, sophisticated aunt, poking fun at them but giving them their moments too. She also gave them her desk!
Joan and her daughter Melissa were estranged after the suicide of Rosenberg, Joan’s husband and Melissa’s father, but they overcame it with therapy. As Joan said recently:
“We’re very close. We have nobody else: she has me and I have her. I think it’s going to be very difficult when I die, very hard for her … Your child is never not your child. You can be 90 and your mother 120, but your mother is still worried about you.”
I believe Melissa is going to be okay because her mother set such a fine example of overcoming hardship and getting up after falling down. (If you lose your TV show, design jewelry!) Immediately after her mother’s death, Melissa said, “My mother’s greatest joy in life was to make people laugh. Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon.” And Melissa did indeed have me laughing — and crying a little — with the letter to Joan that she read at Joan’s funeral, which was the star-studded gala of her mother’s dreams. Joan had been staying at Melissa’s Los Angeles home and Melissa started with:
“Mom: I received the note that you slipped under my bedroom door last night. I was very excited to read it, thinking that it would contain amazing, loving advice that you wanted to share with me. Imagine my surprise when I opened it and saw that it began with the salutation, ‘Dear Landlord.'”
When you read the whole letter, the warmth and humor of their relationship becomes clear. Not every kid can handle an outrageous parent, but Melissa clearly was doing just fine.
E! just aired the Fashion Police Grammys 2012 show and it concluded with Joan’s tribute to Whitney Houston, who died the night before the Grammys. She said, “Though we won’t see her on the red carpet again, she will always be in our hearts.” Same to you, Joan. Same to you.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
For Throwback Thursday, here I am trying to be Audrey Hepburn in an LBD and updo in November 2003.
The yellow-diamond earrings and ring I’m wearing were purchased from my late business partner, before we were partners.
I didn’t go into the jewelry business until 2005.
I think this is the same, very short, black dress that I wore as my friend Phil’s best man in 2002. I wore that for a long time, but I don’t have it anymore.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Esquire ran an excerpt from a book called F**k: An Irreverent History of the F-Word by Rufus Lodge. The magazine’s glossary of 69 fucks includes Mr. Big’s favorite, “abso-fucking-lutely” …
… “fuckball,” as delivered by Harvey Keitel in the movie Get Shorty …
… and the likes of “fuckboy,” the 1950s term “fuck-dust,” and the Victorian “fuckhole.”
Those people who say swearing is a sign of a limited vocabulary really need to get the fuck outta here …
… and shut the fuck up …
… because I think “fuckola” and “fuckstruck” are pretty fucking creative!
And I should know, because I’ve won awards for swearing!
Monday, September 15, 2014
MrB and I went to California on Labor Day weekend to visit family and friends. We stayed near the beach in Santa Monica and it was so beautiful, daytime …
… and nighttime.
The buildings were pink, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky …
… and the Champagne sangria was delicious.
MrB and I had a good time on the Ferris wheel …
… and in the Pacific Ocean.
I always have a good time with Boo!
Right near where we were staying, in the Brentwood Country Mart, is Broken English Jewelry, which carries my jewelry line. I stopped in to take a look at some of my pieces there. Pantone has declared aquamarine to be the #1 color for women for Spring 2015, so it was a good time to take a few photos of my one-of-a-kind, 18K-gold-and-aquamarine Livia poison ring.
Before we went home, we drove to Hollywood …
… to have our traditional brunch with the L.A.-based portion of the family: MrB’s two eldest daughters, two grandsons, one son-in-law, and one first wife. This time we also enjoyed the company of MrB’s son, who flew out from Chicago. Basically, we were only missing one daughter and one second wife. MrB presented Wife #1 with a nice bottle of Irish whiskey because it would have been their 50th wedding anniversary … if they were still married! Wife #3 (me) took celebratory photos. We have a very civilized extended family. Later, I wore a large plastic spider as a hat, courtesy of my eldest grandson.
That day, I was wearing a t-shirt that I had been dubious about.
I got the top because it has safety pins on it and, thanks to my love for punk music and fashion, I have an enduring passion for safety pins as decoration.
When I bought the shirt, I was so excited about the pins that I barely registered that the lettering behind them says, “In Love We Trust.” Ugh! I am not about the word “love” in fashion or jewelry. Hearts are fine with me, because they can be made visually interesting, but writing out “love” makes me think of those script nameplate necklaces that read “Love” and “Breathe” and “Faith.” Those are everywhere; you can get them from any Chinese jewelry manufacturer at any price. So unimaginative! When it comes to word necklaces I prefer funny, edgy concepts like IDGAF, TWERK, BOSSY and NINJA. But, seeing as I was stuck with the shirt, I chopped off the short sleeves and finally wore it. I was gratified when my son-in-law said, “Cool safety pins.” He didn’t notice the text either!
Speaking of safety pins, one of the first pieces I wanted to create when I started designing jewelry in 2005 was a gold and diamond safety pin. While I was playing around with my idea, I decided that so many people had already done safety-pin jewelry that I was “too late.” Since that time, I’d say hundreds, if not thousands, of new safety-pin designs have come out. I learned a lesson there. Trends can last a decade and some jewelry themes — snakes, for instance — are eternal. Even the expression “There is nothing new under the sun” is ancient! (It’s been around since Old Testament times.) Now I go where my inspiration takes me and trust that my interpretation of a theme is what will make my version special. Hmmm. Now that I think of it, even the “Love” necklace concept could be Wendy-ized. Stay tuned!
Sunday, September 14, 2014
In case you missed it, here’s what was on the blog this week:
- Wednesday: What I wore to Zang Toi’s 25th anniversary show. Plus, People blames the celebrities affected by the nude-photo-hacking incident.
- Thursday: The thirteenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
- Friday: The Jewel of the Month is the PUSHY necklace, as seen on journalist Jill Abramson.
By the way, People has not responded to my request for a comment on the awful item it ran. The magazine has ignored me on Twitter and I’ve already contacted the public relations office by phone (once) and by email (twice). I look forward to contacting them again tomorrow!
Friday, September 12, 2014
Zang Toi’s Spring 2015 runway show this week reminded me that I had an outfit photo with a Zang dress that I’ve been meaning to post since May!
What Wendy Wore
Dress: Zang Toi (2007?)
Purse: Prada (2007)
Shoes: Prada (2010)
I’d have to ask Zang exactly what season this dress is from, but I probably got it in 2007, seeing as the first photo I have of it is from September of that year.
I wore it to a dinner for Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. RCFP provides free legal assistance to journalists.
The dinner took place five days after the controversial firing of New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson — the first woman to hold that job at the paper. One of the dinner honorees happened to be New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger. (Note: MrB and I know both Jill and Arthur.)
The dinner attendees were quite titillated by this, but, while Arthur praised Jill as a “powerful and outspoken advocate for a free press,” he didn’t say anything specific about recent events in his speech. (Looking back through my email from that night, I see that I emailed myself that short quote from Arthur just a few minutes after emailing a friend at a noisy nearby table, “Tell your table to be quiet! You’re like the bad kids in the back of the classroom!!” My friend replied, “They’re all lawyers, what do you expect.”)
Ten days later, both Jill and Arthur attended the Pulitzer Prize lunch. MrB — who was a member of the Pulitzer board from 1999 to 2007, and the chairman of the board in his final year — accompanied Jill. After, he told me that a photographer had corralled him, Jill, Arthur and Stephen Adler of Reuters for the journalism equivalent of an awkward family photo. It wasn’t released to the Columbia Journalism Review until about a month later.
“On May 28, Columbia University photographer Eileen Barroso captured a historic, if uncomfortable New York Times moment at the Pulitzer Prize luncheon: the last portrait of former Executive Editor Jill Abramson and Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. in public together for what will likely be a long time.”
Every time I look at this photo I laugh out loud. Look at MrB’s face! He’s like, “OMG!!!! I CAN’T EVEN!”
Speaking of Jill, I wrote in May that her experience gave me the inspiration for a new word necklace: PUSHY. I did indeed follow through on that and sent Jill a gold-plated silver necklace as a gift. I was very excited when she emailed me last week to tell me she had worn the necklace for a video interview she did at Re/code‘s Code/Media New York event. On Re/code’s site, the introduction to Jill’s interview reads:
“Jill Abramson says she can’t explain, precisely, why she was fired from the New York Times’ top editing job in May. But she’s happy to talk about it.
And she’s happy to wink at her situation as well, by showing up to an interview with Re/code’s Kara Swisher wearing a necklace with charms that spell out ‘Pushy.'”
Woot! Here’s a screen cap that shows the necklace.
Jill had a very interesting conversation with Kara (I also know Kara; in fact, I once tumbled through a hole in the floor of her under-renovation house). I recommend you watch it all 35 minutes of the interview. Jill’s just a cool, smart, groundbreaking, badass lady. And I love that she’s flaunting her tats in the sleeveless dress she wore.
I figure this makes it the right time for the PUSHY necklace to be my Jewel of the Month. The piece is made to order and available in silver …
… and 18K gold.
Here’s how the gold version looks on my gorgeous right-hand woman Eryn.
If you’re a badass woman but PUSHY isn’t your thing, you might be interested in May’s Jewels of the Months: my BOSS and BOSSY necklaces. I also do custom word necklaces, so if you don’t find what you want among the 22 (and counting!) word necklace styles on my website, holla at me at wbjewelry at hotmail dot com with your request.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
I have not yet been to 9/11 Memorial Museum, but acquaintances who have gone photographed a display that tells the story of the Wall Street Journal’s Sept. 12, 2001, issue.
That quote across the top — “I want a six-column headline!” — is from MrB. He was the managing editor of the Wall Street Journal from 1991 to 2007. In 2001, the paper’s offices were in the World Financial Center, across the street from the World Trade Center. I was in a different part of the World Financial Center, working for Lehman Brothers. When I heard a tremendous explosion at 8:46 a.m. on September 11, I ran to a window and saw debris falling down, but I couldn’t make out what had happened. As I’ve written before, I hurried back to my desk and started sending emails, locating my employees, and checking CNN online. I also called MrB and asked, “What was that explosion at the World Trade Center?”, hoping that his journalists would already have the answer. MrB asked, “What explosion?” I said, “The one that shook this whole building! I think you better go look out the window!” and hung up to continue searching for news. Reports that a plane had hit the World Trade Center’s North Tower started popping up on the web. At first, there was speculation that it was an accident, but then, at 9:03 a.m., the second plane struck the South Tower. I called MrB again while I tried to get my few employees organized to leave the building. He and I agreed to meet between our buildings, but when I walked outside, I was blocked from going towards our meeting spot. I didn’t have a cell phone then, and, even if I had, cell phones weren’t working. I had a working (non-phone-enabled) BlackBerry, but MrB didn’t have one, so that was it for communicating with him.
Instead, I emailed with a colleague in London, who was watching the news on the BBC. He told me about the attack on the Pentagon and advised me to head uptown quickly. Thanks to him, my group was safely away when the first tower came down. I said nervously to the people around me, “I’m sure MrB is okay. We left at the same time and we’re okay, so he must be okay too.” I figured he would have been heading north, away from the WTC, like us. I didn’t realize he had been forced to exit south. The Trade Center and surrounding buildings were on the tip of Manhattan, right next to the water, so there was no way for MrB and thousands of other people to put any distance between themselves and the catastrophe. The choking dust and debris from the collapsing buildings rained down upon them. MrB covered his mouth and nose with his tie. Later, he said:
“I remember saying to myself, ‘You don’t die of smoke inhalation in the open air’ … It’s not always true, I knew, but it was a nice thing to tell myself at the time.”
I made it to my friend Kevin’s apartment and used his home phone to leave messages for MrB. Eventually, MrB, who’d gotten home by foot and bus, called me back. I’d been fairly calm till then, but as soon as I heard MrB’s voice, I bawled, “I CAN’T FIND RANDI!” Before I left the World Financial Center, I had darted back and forth between my office and my employee Randi’s desk several times, but I didn’t see her. I called her extension and got no answer. I thought she might have left ahead of me, so I went to the lobby to meet my other people, but I kept worrying. When I got to Kevin’s apartment, I tried to call Randi at home, but I didn’t have her number, and when I called information, it turned out she was unlisted. MrB told me he’d take care of everything and he did, calling 411 and telling the operator that during a national emergency, she simply had to give him the unlisted number. She did and then we all took turns calling Randi’s home answering machine to enjoy her outgoing message, recorded in her fabulous New Yawk accent: “Randi and Ross are safe from the explosion.”
It’s still amazing to me that MrB took the time to do this while helping to coordinate the Wall Street Journal’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning next-day coverage of the terrorist attack. Thank you, MrB. You’re my hero.
To fully understand the huge effort the paper’s staff put in to cover the the news after having to abandon the New York office, read this 2011 story by Roy J. Harris Jr.:
And, as I’ve mentioned before, one of the standout stories in the September 12 issue was written by John Bussey, who was still in the Journal’s office when the Twin Towers came down:
- “I Thought Everybody Else Was Lost”
- 10 Years Later: “Essential Acts of Witness”
- 10 Years Later: The Weak Horse
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
I was managing editor of People Magazine’s website in 1999, and I’ve subscribed to the magazine ever since I left that job. Today, I was flipping through the Sept. 15, 2014, issue and came across an item about the recent celebrity nude-photo hacking. Because it slut-shamed and blamed actress Jennifer Lawrence and model Kate Upton for their own violation, I initially thought it was a story about comedian Ricky Gervais, who was criticized for “joking” on Twitter (in a totally matter-of-fact and humorless tone) that celebrities who don’t want their nude photos exposed shouldn’t take nude photos. But no! It was an editorial comment from People itself — interestingly, the only item in the magazine’s Scoop section that was minus a byline — declaring that celebs should “Just Say No to Naked Selfies.”
This piece reminds me of the time on Family Guy when Peter Griffin says, “Yeah Brian, you’re doing the same thing that Mia Farrow did to that Chinaman that Woody Allen brought home from the circus!” and Lois responds, “Peter, hold on to that thought, because I’m gonna explain to you when we get home all the things that are wrong with that statement.” There are THAT many things wrong with People’s short item.
For a start, despite trying to protect itself with a “rightly so” aside that feigns a modicum of sympathy for the victims, the magazine says the celebrity women claimed a violation and blamed a hacker, as if those things were in doubt. Then there’s People’s uneasy relationship with technology. People Magazine couldn’t deal with the Internet when I was there in 1999 — four years after a top executive called the corporate parent’s Internet operations a “black hole” — and it still can’t. The Scoop item puts the word “cloud” in quotations, like it’s not a real thing that its own employees use all the time. Then it compares the cloud’s security to the rhythm method for birth control and, in case you missed the point, quotes the definition of as atmospheric, weather cloud from the Oxford Dictionaries. OMG! All our Internet security depends upon water vapor!
The capper is the last line about Upton:
“…and Upton will go back to doing whatever it is that Upton does, which — as far as we can tell — involves taking almost-naked pictures for magazine covers.”
I. Am. Astonished. First, Upton is a professional model and if she chooses to disrobe partially or completely in order to make a living in front of the lens that does not mean her body is up for grabs at all times. I mean, I sell jewelry, but if I say a particular piece is not for sale, that doesn’t make it legal for you to take it from me by force.
Additionally, those “magazine covers” People refers to so derisively include Sports Illustrated.
Sports Illustrated is a Time Inc. publication, as is People. People’s staffers are throwing shade at Kate for doing business with their own corporate colleagues! (Earlier this year, People celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue by calling it a “landmark development for … the magazine industry” and selecting the 17 most memorable covers. Not a word about the long-running criticism of the swimsuit issue, which has been called sexist by numerous critics over the decades.)
Making its anti-woman attitude crystal clear, People included a shirtless photo of actor John Stamos — one that the actor willingly shared with the public — with the caption, “The exception to this public service announcement is John Stamos … who should continue to post shirtless pictures on Instagram anytime he wants.” No slut-shaming for John; apparently, men’s bodies just aren’t inherently bad like women’s. There’s some kind of Adam and Eve original sin stuff going down here.
The ultimate absurdity is that People thrives on getting private information about celebrities. If celebrities don’t cooperate, the magazine does “write-arounds,” interviewing other sources and running the story anyway, “writing around” the lack of a real interview. (Write-arounds can be great investigative reporting at certain publications, but I don’t recall seeing many of those in People. A People write-around signals a lack of access, not an important expose.) Basically, People WANTS to get its hands on celebrities’ private stuff but then mocks celebrities for having anything private.
This is big bucks for Time Inc. People was the biggest part of the company when I was there and in the ensuing 15 years, despite all the new competition online, the magazine is still the most important Time Inc. property. Last month, in a story on new People editor Jess Cagle, the New York Times reported:
“People generates more revenue than any of the company’s more than 90 magazines and 45 websites, bringing in $1.49 billion in 2013, according to estimates from the magazine industry consultant John Harrington.”
That’s a lot of money dependent on celebrities’ private business. If I were a famous female, I wouldn’t cooperate with People in any way until Jess Cagle publishes an apology and promises to review the coverage of women by both People and Entertainment Weekly, where he is editorial director. Until then, let his reporters reduce themselves to calling your local Starbucks and interviewing your barista for a write-around. Watch them wind up writing about what size chai tea latte you order while you publish your wedding photos elsewhere!