Tag Archives | Madonna

On Turning Fifty

So I’ve been fifty for an entire week and so far things are going pretty well.

It didn’t look good there for a while, though, because I inducted myself into my fifth decade not only with a horrible cold but also with a violent stomach bug that had me barfing so hard and so long that I threw out my back.  All that vomit, without even a riotous party to precede it.  I followed the sneezing and coughing and barfing by peeling off a chunk of my thumb when I was peeling carrots for soup a few days ago. Left a lovely trail of blood across the cutting board but I’m pretty sure the scrap of thumb-flesh did not end up in the soup.

Fifty. I’m trying to buy into that whole “you’re only as old as you feel” thing and  “fifty is the new thirty,” but then you know what happens?  Some well-intentioned person says “You’re fifty?” which is meant as a compliment but the tone of the compliment sounds like sweetjesusfiftythat’sfreakingancient.  And that means that what’s really being said is “fifty means one foot in the crypt and for someone teetering on the edge, you don’t look half bad.”

Fifty. It’s not that old (and it’s getting younger all the damn time. Like, hourly).  I mean, there are lots of fantastic women who make fifty look good. Sandra Bullock turns fifty this summer, Michelle Obama just turned fifty, Madonna is fifty-four (sweetjesusthat’sfreakingancient).  I figure that  I’ve ridden buses driven by lunatics, I’m married to a handsome brown man, I’ve even danced to “Vogue,” so pretty much I’m going to age as fabulously as they are, right?

Fifty.  When the things you want down (weight, blood pressure, gray hair) go up, and the things you want up (back fat, boobs, good cholesterol levels) go down. It’s like a whipsaw in here as my body re-aligns itself to its new status as an AARP member (the card, I believe, is in the mail).

Of course, I have no intention of AARP-ing myself any time soon; like the plague victim in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” I have to say “I’m not dead yet…think I’ll go for a walk this afternoon…”  At fifty, I’ve still got an entire lifetime in front of me–it’s  just not quite as much “lifetime” as I had, say, fifteen years ago.

Here’s a thing that’s happened as I hit the far edge of late middle-age (or as that far edge hits me, whichever)–a kind of consolation prize, if you will, for the sagging skin and aching joints:  “fifty” gives you license to ignore the “shoulds.” Probably I should’ve learned to do that a long time ago (see what I did there?), but I didn’t, so now I have.  All those scripts that others want you to follow, all those conventional ideas about what a woman should do or shouldn’t do, all those commitments you’ve made because someone thought it would be a good thing for you to do?  Screw it. You’re fifty. Yes, you have a long time left on this earth, but not so much time that you should spend any of it doing anything other than what you think matters most.  You think Madonna is taking meetings she thinks are stupid? Nope. And you don’t need to wear a spike-encrusted bustier to follow her example (I hope).

So yeah. I’m fifty. And I can almost say that without wincing.

birthday candles

 image source

 

 

Continue Reading · on January 29, 2014 in aging, Feminism, growing up, me my own personal self, ranting

Madonna, The Spectacle, Part II: who you calling queen?

Maybe you’ve heard that Madonna and Lady Gaga indulged in a little twittertiff a few weeks ago about the connection between Gaga’s song “Born This Way” and Madonna’s classic “Express Yourself.”  (Funny to think that bad-girl Madge is in the position of having a “classic,” isn’t it? In the same ironic vein as “Jumping Jack Flash” becoming supermarket muzak.)

I don’t know about you, but the first time I heard “Born This Way,” I thought it sounded a lot like Madonna’s song, no question asked.  So then it’s either the generous interpretation: Gaga’s homage to Madge.  Or less generously, Gaga’s unattributed borrowing from Madge.

Gaga says that the chords in her ditty are just the same chord progressions that have been part of disco music for the past fifty years.  Which jesus, disco has been around for fifty years? Wow.

Madonna, apparently, takes the less generous viewpoint, as she made clear in her Abu Dhabi show during a version of “Express Yourself” that featured cheerleaders, pompons, and a drum corps suspended on invisible wires from the rafters. (Can you imagine it? Good news! you’ve been chosen to join Madonna’s tour! Bad news! You’re going to hang twenty feet off the ground with your full drum kit playing an incredibly complicated rhythm line for about thirty minutes!)

This version of “Express Yourself” sampled “Born This Way” and as Madge paced the stage, she exclaimed: “She’s NOT me!” The audience roared its approval, and roared even louder when she said “I’m the Queen!”

I like Gaga’s tune, and a few others, although if I have to listen to my kids doing “p-p-p-p-p-poker face…” one more time, I’m going to make that woman eat her damn meat dress. And Madonna – well, Madonna is the soundtrack of my college years, of bombing around New York’s East Village in paisley leggings and black Chuck Taylors, of dancing sweatily into the night in apartments that looked much better in the dark.  So although her shock value has worn away, I can’t so easily shove her off the throne – those tunes are my youth.

But both Gagalina and Madge would do well to stop quarreling and bow to the American South, home of the woman who spawned them all, the first truly iconic one-word woman:

Dolly.

All of them – Madonna, Gaga, Britney, Beyonce – owe a debt to Dolly.  She used boobs and talent to force open doors that women weren’t supposed to open and gave us a woman unafraid to re-invent herself with the flip of a wig and the wave of a press-on nail.

From Nashville with Porter Wagoner, to 9 to 5 with Lily Tomlin, to Dollywood, to Kennedy Center Honors, and back around to the bluegrass music that was her first love, Dolly owns it all.  The wig, the eyelashes, the nails, the huge shoes…it’s all part of the show, as is her ability to laugh at herself, a talent that other divas might want to consider. At the Hollywood Bowl a few years ago, she even rapped about her amazing rack – and paid homage to Queen Latifah, also a breastally gifted woman.  Dolly has a long way to go as a rap star – Latifah won’t be losing that contest anytime soon, but can you imagine Gaga, or Madonna, or anyone else making fun of themselves like this:  She’s the queen of her own hood … but I’m the queen of Dollywood! I don’t hip and I don’t hop … I’d black both eyes with this big top.  I know the Queen has got ’em too …  but she don’t work ’em like I do!”  (to see the clip, from tmz.com, click here).

Gaga plays the piano, and Madge had a guitar with her for a few numbers the other night, but Dolly (even with those nails) plays guitar, banjo, authoharp, dulcimer – and even, occasionally, the drums. Which is to say that for all her self-proclaimed fakery, the lady is the real deal.

Here’s Dolly, back in the day, with what can only be described as a a literal beehive on her head. Amazing what could be done with just hairspray, y’all.  (source)

And here’s Dolly a few years back: pink, sequins, wig, face-lift, waist cinched, smiling. (source)

Gaga can wear all the meat she wants and Madge can pretend to kill people on stage, or break up with God, or whatever it is she wants to do. But when they’re alone in their lavish dressing rooms, they’d better pray that when they’re pushing seventy, they can be as cool as Dolly.

 

For Part I about the Madonna show, click here

 

 

 

 

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Continue Reading · on June 7, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, Feminism, pop culture

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