A Late Nod to 1 May

The presidential elections in Austria are happening right now and it came down to a right wing candidate and a green/left candidate. I was just asked to write why I’m supporting the green/left guy and I wrote a little statement which I’d like to share here as well:

In the age of globalization, which brings along the insecurities, inequality, destruction of the environment and of natural resources, overpopulation, migration and loss of human values, the left – which for me means humans before capital, and with each other, not against each other – is the only way to survive. I choose left for my son and the planet he’s going to inherit.  And if I could choose a mother, that’s whom I would choose. Because I believe our planet (and our civilization) destroyed by male values can only be rescued by switching to female modus operandi: nourishing, repairing, preserving, reconciling and being in tune with nature.

We don't have much time left.

Yoga Pants, the New Perfume

When I lived in Europe and read celebrity magazines (I’ve always been a sucker for celebrity magazines), I often wondered why famous people go out in public in their workout clothes. And get caught on camera. In Europe you don’t go outside of your home or gym in your workout clothes. Now that I’ve spent so much time in LA I finally have an answer: it’s not the people, it’s the city! I wrote a very fun article for the February issue of Gloria Glam about LA’s obsession with yoga pants. I was very honored to speak about this topic with Catherine Adair, acclaimed costume designer whose work on “Desperate Housewives” brought her an Emmy. Cate’s first reaction was: “Cars!” 

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Why George Clooney’s Love Life Matters

I’m so in love with Philosophers’ Mail idea of giving gossip deeper meaning that I’m going to steal the idea and serve you some gossip. Apparently – and this has been a rumor for months – George Clooney is dating…. Ready?.... A successful intelligent woman with a serious profession! Few months ago, they’ve been papped (for all those normal people not living in L.A.: a picture taken by paparazzi) in a car, leaving a restaurant in London. And few days ago, she accompanied him to “The Monuments Men” screening at the White House. (That’s what I call a date!)

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Unapologetic Barbie

So, Barbie just appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated 50th anniversary annual swimsuit issue (wearing the swimsuit she wore when she first appeared in shops in 55 years ago). And this cover caused a huge stir. Apparently it’s giving girls a wrong body image. This might be right but I don’t understand why a picture of a doll is worse than a picture of what is supposed to be a live, breathing woman but is so photo-shopped that no live breathing woman, even the one who posed for the picture, could ever look like that. Because her name adorned the title of my first book and because I (believe it or not) used to be nicknamed Barbie, she was always present in my work. This is why in my last interview for Croatian Cosmopolitan, I was asked a very interesting (and tricky) question: What have I learned from Barbie? I was always very quick to criticize Barbie (for her unnatural body image and dumb activities) but never spent one thought wondering if there ever was anything positive to having grown up with Barbie. This really wasn’t an easy question.

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Cheers to "The Philosophers' Mail"

Alain de Botton, one of the world’s most famous living philosophers and author of numerous bestsellers just started a new website called "The Philosophers' Mail". Irritated by the gap between what’s popular and what’s important, he decided to marry the readability and fun of "Daily Mail" (and even its format) with deep perspective, even philosophy. The ultimate goal of this exotic mix is to get people to care about important things. Currently without advertisement, the site has three full time employees (which is amazing, considering that some of most famous sites expect people to write for free). Check it out, it’s fun! You will find articles such as why paparazzi pictures of Natalie Portman playing in the park with her son help motivate people to do mundane things, why Rosie Huntington’s beauty isn’t normal and why low unemployment numbers can mean misemployment. I applaud de Botton (again) and wish his site lots of success!

Link to The Philosophers' Mail

How Chivalry Could Heal American Misogyny

I just found on my Facebook wall a post titled „5 Reasons Why Women Should Celebrate the Death of Chivalry.“ It made me jump to the ceiling. Since Woody Allen scandal came up again few weeks ago, I’ve been thinking about women in the United States a lot. Actually, I’ve been thinking about women in United States a lot since I moved here three years ago. Before I moved here, I lived in Croatia and Austria. And I just can’t stop being shocked about how much, and how deeply women are hated in this country. Something went terribly wrong here and somewhere along the path to equality, and instead of partners, American men and women became competitors, even opponents.

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Mama in the Mirror - The Art of Aging

“Jagoda Kaloper in the Mirror of the Cultural Screen,” a book about my mother’s art film “Woman in the Mirror” has just been published. Only few months ago, she celebrated her 66th birthday by opening a new exhibition. There were hundreds of people, lots of journalists and the exhibition received great reviews from art critics. Yesterday, she had a 45 minutes interview on Croatian National Television. She talked about her life – but what really impressed me was her talking about age and how she feels better now than she did when she was young. Yes, I am in love with my mom. I believe I have all reasons to be: She is the most caring, loving and supporting mother in the world (don’t get me wrong, she’s not perfect) but she is also a very strong, independent, successful woman – the kind of woman we would like our daughters to look up to. 

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Laughing at Death?

Yesterday, I have witnessed my first Dia de los Meurtos celebration – a Mexican tradition of celebrating the passed ones and smiling at death. Coming from two very Catholic countries – Croatia and Austria, I am used to give honor to the ones that passed away once a year, on 1 November, All Saints Day. On that day, Croats (Austrians to a much lesser extent) visit graveyards, and fill them with big quiet crowds overwhelmed with respect and sadness. They buy flowers – white, stern flowers, a certain kind that is connected to cemeteries - and candles and turn cemeteries into lakes of warm quiet candlelight. In our culture, death is bad, it’s scary, it’s the end, it’s dark. We have completely estranged ourselves from death. 

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“It is necessary to stop being a patient"

Eva Illouz, one of today’s most established sociologists (yes, I am a HUGE fan), whom German “Die Zeit” called one of a few people that will shape the thinking of tomorrow just published a very interesting essay on psychology titled “How therapy became a multimillion dollar industry”.  In 2008, Illouz published a book on this topic called “Saving the Modern Soul: Therapy, Emotions, and the Culture of Self-Help”. In her new essay, she talks about some very important and interesting (but also controversial: Israeli psychoanalysts attacked her strongly because of the essay) aspects of the commercialization of psychology.

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Go Francis!

I am definitely not a fan of what has become of Catholic Church. But it is always very exciting when you can find positive aspects in what you principally view as negative and other way round (Dear Angie, I think it is amazing that you had your healthy breasts- and soon ovaries - cut out: What a wonderful deconstruction of a sex symbol!) Back to the Catholic Church. I was very excited to read about Pope Francis railing against the dictatorship of an economy that became a self-righteous system and completely overtrumped (and enslaved) human beings. It is religions of the world that should scream loudest against injustice, against any threat to our soul, against neglecting that what makes us spiritual beings. 

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Let Angie Be.... StrAngie.

When I turned on Facebook today and saw posts about Angelina Jolie’s article in New York Times in which she talks about her preventive double mastectomy (and it sounds like an upcoming preventive oophorectomy), at first I thought it was yet another Facebook joke. Then I thought it was one of those nebulous articles Star magazine invents. But then I clicked on the article and the click lead me to the unspeakable truth: Which is – it’s true! Angelina Jolie has seriously had both healthy breasts removed because gene tests showed she has BRCA1, a “faulty” gene which her doctors told her means 87% chance of developing breast cancer. Her mother died of breast cancer at the age of 56. So she had her breasts removed. Now, her doctors claim that her chance of getting breast cancer lowered to 5%. She still has 50% chance of getting ovarian cancer, so I do see her removing her ovaries in near future.

Now, what Angelina Jolie decides to do with her body is absolutely her choice. We have to respect that.

But.

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International Workers' Day and the Power of Information

1st of May is one of the days I miss Vienna the most. I miss big red-and-white flags hanging from the historic houses, and the blissful peace I feel when I wake up: As it is workers’ holiday, the drives have the right to rest so public transportation only starts functioning at noon. I miss decorated trams that later in the day drive through Vienna. Music on the streets. The parade I always wanted to go to and never did (yes, yes: Never postpone to tomorrow what you could do today). I miss that one day in the year when we celebrate labor. Workers and their rights. General human rights. Human dignity. The rights of people vs. rights of corporations. 

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And HELLO Beyoncé!

Beyonce just started her world tour yesterday with a concert in Belgrade. And here is what she had to show us: Nipples. Really Beyonce? What’s next? Stylized insides of your vagina? Tasteless. (And I have nothing against boobs. But either show them or don’t.) I don't want to go into bashing current pop stars' vulgarity because I feel I said/wrote it so many times that I'm getting boring. But Beyonce’s sequin boobs perfectly fit our last conversation (see my blog on Margaret Thatcher from 10 April 2013.) What images of successful women, or role models, do young girls have to look up to today? Either Hilary or Merkel – or Beyonce (`s boobs). Why is there no middle ground? How much femininity is too less and how much is too much?

God bless ancient Greeks and their Sophrosyne.

 

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Bye-bye Margaret!

O.K., so Margaret Thatcher is dead. She passed away couple of days ago and my Facebook wall is still full of her. As my friends are mostly left wing intellectuals (am I bragging?), my wall looks like a competition on who can say worse things about the “Iron Lady”. Yes, she was a horrible neoliberal who, together with her buddy Ronald Reagan, helped to create this mess we are living in. But I got so tired of reading bad things about her. It’s old. We know it. Leave it alone. Let’s invest our energy to find the way out of this mess rather than bash a long forgotten corpse. I felt the urge to write a note on Margaret Thatcher’s death because I feel weirdly connected to her. I do. In a very bizarre way. Since I had a back surgery at age of 15 in which my spine got supported with this long metal rod (called “Harrington”), my friends often referred to me as Iron Lady. I always liked it. For one, I literally do consist of a big amount of metal. But I always considered myself to be some kind of Iron Lady in other ways: I am strong, brave, ambitious. Indestructible. And this is where Margaret Thatcher is important. Whatever her political views were, she did do something good. She became the only female Prime Minister in the history of the UK. She fought for her position in the time and society in which parents still forbade their daughters to attend university believing there is no other position for them in this world then that of a housewife. Thanks to her, I grew up taking for granted that one of the world’s most important political personae is a woman. (On top of it all, she was also feminine – as far as her position would allow. And she was a mother.) Unfortunately, since she left politics, girls haven’t had a picture of a leading female politician to look up to, or simply take for granted.

Hopefully Hillary will change that in a few years.

Till then: Bye-bye Margaret!

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Skyfall

Dear James, I was your biggest fan. I miss you!

You used to be the most incredible man I’ve ever seen. You were handsome, stylish and elegant. You had class. There was an aristocratic air to you. You were the guy a woman wanted to go to an Opera Gala with and then tear off his immaculate tux and have sex with him. You were a spy, full of secrets (and special skills). You had a license to kill. And you killed like a gentleman. What a combination! You spoke languages, had a vast knowledge about most bizarre things. You were clever and witty and funny. You used to talk. You talked to women and to other agents and to the bad guys. You don’t talk anymore. You had incredible outfits, cars, gadgets. Where did your gadgets disappear to? I loved your gadgets. They were sexy. They were full of surprises. And dangerous. And fun. What about a gun that fires only with your fingerprints, and a radio? James, those lame things make you impotent!

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Yes, you can! Part II

As ridiculous as it may sound, I wish that US voters behaved like nothing has changed. I wish they had the same enthusiasm they had in 2008. Because they still urgently need change, they still urgently need Obama. And this does not mean that Obama hasn’t done his job. In contrary, Obama has done a great job. He proved that he deserves to be elected again. Yes, people are disappointed. People are always disappointed. People were disappointed after every revolution, every election, every change. Every war. (Believe me, I grew up in a country of revolutions, wars, and major political and social changes. Change takes time. And people are always disappointed.) People don’t really know what they want. People want miracles. Miracles do not exist. Not in the world we've built for ourselves.

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Sandy, the real witch & Goldman Sachs, the real God

I am happy that all of my friends in NYC are well. I hope the city - and here I mean its people - will show its amazing stamina once again and get back to its feet very soon. And here the most amazing picture. While whole downtown is in darkness, and many hospitals had to be evacuated, Goldman Sachs is glowing in its full glory. Yes, we know who has the power....

 

"Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler" - and Simone

I did it again, and I enjoyed it as much as always: A Literary Cocktail. This time, two books by two completely different women, both describing their experiences of the WWII, both magically complementing each other. Trudi Kanter’s “Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler” and Simone de Beauvoir’s “Wartime Diaries”. Ursula Doyle, the editor of the new publication of Trudi Kanter’s book found a copy of the book in a British bookstore in ‘80s. Trudi died in 1992, she had no children and all traces of here are lost. How she managed to write a book in English in her ‘80s is a mystery. Trudi was a hat designer, a truly independent woman who ran her own workshop with 20 employees on stylish Kohlmarkt 11 when Nazis marched into Vienna, forcing Trudi to turn the world upside down to escape together with her new (handsome but and completely useless) husband. 

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Simone's comment to my previous post

Something for my German speaking readers. I wanted to follow up on my previous entry – and before I did, I found almost the same description and opinion in Simone de Beauvoir’s “New York, mon amour” – her diary of her first visit to New York in 1947. Are times not changing after all? Unfortunately, there is no English translation of this book. “Wenn man in New York ankommt, erscheint einem der Glanz der Haare und des Teints wie ein Wunder – aber das ist ein Wunder, das viel Geld kostet. Eine andere Tatsache ist, wie ich glaube, besonders bezeichnend: die der Amerikanerin aufgezwungene Standardkleidung ist nicht bestimmt, ihrer Bequemlichkeit zu dienen;  diese Frauen, die bei jeder Gelegenheit so nachdrücklich ihre Unabhängigkeit fordern und deren Haltung dem Mann gegenüber so leicht aggressiv wird, ziehen sich für die Männer an: diese Absätze, die ihren Gang lähmen, diese zerbrechlichen Federn, diese Blumen mitten im Winter – all dieser Putz soll unzweifelhaft ihre Fraulichkeit unterstreichen und die Blicke der Männer anziehen. Tatsächlich ist die Toilette der Europäerin weniger unterwürfig.” Pg. 78