The Year of Patti Smith
Patti Smith, androgynous queen of post-punk, has long been more than just a musician or poet. She was firmly entrenched in the downtown Manhattan Bowery arts scene from the beginning, painting and sculpting while engaging in a long and serious friendship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith’s four-decade whirl through the city has been chronicled in a new documentary, Dream of Life, from director Steven Sebring, which premiered on PBS in late December (it continues to re-air). Perhaps the most tactile part of the filmmaking project, however, has come in the form of a new art exhibition from both Smith and Sebring, Objects of Life, which opened January 6 at the Robert Miller Gallery in New York. The show chronicles the 11 years the pair spent working on the documentary, through ephemera like Smith’s childhood clothing and a tambourine belonging to Mapplethorpe, and also a hanging of Strange Messenger, Smith’s largest-scale painting to date. On January 19, during the run of the show, Smith will also release a memoir, Just Kids, full of never-before-seen pictures of the singer and Mapplethorpe during the1970s. But if 2010’s first month is any indication, the new era of Patti Smith is just beginning. Read Rachel Wolff’s interview with Smith and a review of her art exhibit on Art Beast.
The Women Who Loved Elvis
This week, Hollywood is abuzz with the news that Warren Beatty has bedded nearly 13,000 women (at least according to author Peter Biskind’s unauthorized biography, Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America). But while the rest of America is left scratching heads and doing the math, there’s also the tale of another pop culture Casanova— Baby, Let's Play House: Elvis Presley and the Women Who Loved Him, a new biography by Alanna Nash. Chronicling every major (and minor) relationship in Elvis’ life, from Ann-Margret and Cybill Shepherd, to even (gasp!) Johnny Cash’s gal, June Carter, Nash also notes the ladies who dared to turn Elvis down, even in his glory years—Cher, Karen Carpenter, and Petula Clark were among those who had the physical fortitude to refuse the King. And in the end, reading about his women does more to cast light on Elvis’ career than many other biographies that proceeded this one—as New Republic critic David Hajdu writes, “ Baby, Let's Play House is a masterwork of psycho-sexual history neatly disguised as celebrity journalism." Read an excerpt from Alanna Nash’s Baby, Let’s Play House.
Anthony Bourdain Stirs Up Trouble
Speaking of rock stars, Anthony Bourdain, the Elvis of far-flung food correspondents, returns January 11 with a sixth season of No Reservations on the Travel Channel. If you haven’t started watching by now, the show is the ideal mix of profanity, outrageous eating experiments, and gorgeous travel locations, all hosted by the leather-jacket wearing, cigarette-flicking, energetic-drinking host, chef Anthony Bourdain (he of the lauded restaurant industry exposé, Kitchen Confidential). If you prefer to see Tony not on screen, Bourdain has also launched a multi-city speaking tour in January, kicking off in New Orleans January 7 (the rest of his schedule can be found here). Need more incentive? Bourdain’s first new episode covers Panama, where he appears to burn 6 tons of cocaine on camera.