Memorandum No. 1
(V71 Summer 2011)
Date: MAY 2011
Re: PIET MONDRIAN & LIBRARY CARDS
From: M+SS GAGA
To: STEPHEN GAN
Copy to: HAUS OF GAGA / LADY STARLIGHT / NICOLA FORMICHETTI / FREDERIC ASPIRAS / V COLLECTIVE / LITTLE MONSTERS / THE WORLD / FASHION-SEXUALS / ANDY WARHOL / NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY / BULLIES
Glam culture is ultimately rooted in obsession, and those of us who are truly devoted and loyal to the lifestyle of glamour are masters of its history. Or, to put it more elegantly, we are librarians. I myself can look at almost any hemline, silhouette, beadwork, or heel architecture and tell you very precisely who designed it first, what French painter they stole it from, how many designers reinvented it after them, and what cultural and musical movement parented the birth, death, and resurrection of that particular trend. So dear critics and bullies: get your library cards out, because I’m about to do a reading.
An expertise in the vocabulary of fashion, art, and pop culture requires a tremendous amount of studying. My studio apartment on the LES, quite similar to many of my hotel suites now (knock on wood), was covered in inspiration. Everything from vintage books and magazines I found at the Strand on 12th Street to my dad’s old Bowie posters to metal records from my best friend Lady Starlight to Aunt Merle’s hand-me-down emerald-green designer pumps were sprawled all over the floor about two feet from my bathroom and four inches from my George Foreman Grill. (Starlight was always jealous that mine had a bun warmer and hers didn’t.) And in my downtime, which meant whenever I wasn’t waitressing, go-go dancing, or making mixtapes for a music publishing company in Times Square, I was analyzing and studying my library. I would dream of being a rock star who dressed like Mark Bolan, walked like Jerry Hall, and had the panache of Ginger from Casino and the mystery of Isabella Blow. (See footnote)
Any writer, or anyone for that matter, who doesn’t understand the last two sentences of this column should NEVER be writing about or critiquing fashion or artists in publication. As someone who references and annotates her work vigilantly, I am putting all of you on notice. I’ve done my homework, have you? Where are your library cards? Did they expire? Where Yves Saint Laurent designed the “Mondrian” day dress for fashion week Fall/Winter 1965, did he plagiarize or revolutionize? Some people would say he was unoriginal, that he traced an iconic contemporary artwork by Piet Mondrian, and stole it for his own merits. Others may argue that by referencing something so “before its time,” he influenced an entire generation in fashion that transformed the female body with a more linear sensibility, graphics, and painterly shape. We now call it “mod.” Picasso said, “Good artists copy; great artists steal.” Maybe he only said that because he and Matisse were in a bitchy queen fight for two decades (some called it a boxing match, I call it a conversation in art). But maybe it’s just that the resolution is: art gives birth to new art. There is no chicken or egg. It’s molecular. Cells give birth to cells. To put it more bluntly, the Hussein Chalayan vessel I wore at the Grammys wasn’t inspired by a chicken. It was stolen from an egg. But the transformation, the context, and the approach taken to reinterpret the meaning of birth and rebirth in terms of fame on a fucking red carpet – this is what creates the modernity of the statement. The past undergoes mitosis, becoming the originality of the future.
The Haus of Gaga, my (our) own pop-cultural family and living Warholian factory, talked endlessly about the initial vision for “Born This Way.” On the set of the video, it was almost terrifyingly important to me that I tribute Rico (the Zombie Boy’s) tattoos, creating a visual metaphor where tattoos, along with the body modification I had been exploring, became a subcultural symbol for rebirth. Rico in this case was my Mondrian. After I put the makeup on, I found myself dancing and flailing at 9 a.m., after twenty-four hours of no sleep on set. Feeling young and free, it occurred that the makeup allowed me to erase the public’s perception of my beauty, and define it for myself. I asked Rico, “Why did you tattoo yourself this way?” (Something I imagine he’s asked quite frequently.) He said very genuinely, with no hesitation, “Bazooka gum.”? See footnote. And just like that, as many of the creations in my brain take form, I realized, and so did the Haus, that not only did I need to reunite with my youth, i.e.
“Bazooka gum,” but that my fans needed to see me in that juvenile way in order to understand the intention behind why I wrote “Born This Way.” Accompanied with a side ponytail, it took me back to moments when I was just a little baby monster. When my mother would perch a pony high on my hair and we would dance so hard to the tape deck that the perfectly perched pony she fashioned would fall to the side. I had to take an uncomfortable journey back into high school, where my youth represented tears. Wishing I had a mask. Hoping that I could artistically hide the wounds buried deep from years of being bullied. I have since reckoned with this psychology in my performance art. But this time, the revelation was clear: I still want to wear the mask, but now I wear it proud, and with the same effervescence and innocence I had when I was 6, dancing with my mom.
After I performed “Born This Way” at the Grammys, it seemed as though the piece was interpreted as an engagement for battle. And the whole performance was a battle cry in essence – for freedom against forces of inequality and prejudice. But as quickly as the song catapulted to number one, a more subtle controversy exploded. “Born This Way” was a triumph as a pop song and a social statement, but it ultimately revealed another division: the reality that the young generations’ challenges with equality and social justice are just as prevalent now as they were twenty-five years ago. And while “Born This Way” was written for every walk of life, I began to feel my youngest fans were longing to be nurtured, while others felt they already had been. Perhaps in this way, the song was not for everyone, although the intention was such. And perhaps I was naîve to hope everyone would unfold the true meaning of my performance piece the way I unfolded YSL’s “Mondrian” dress. Instead, I am caught between two forces: one holding onto a ponytail, and another screaming “I don’t want to be angry, I want to be free.
“I DON’T WANT TO BE A DRAG, I JUST WANT TO BE A QUEEN.”
I have a passionate understanding of the history of many of the references that not only I have reinspired, but have been reinterpreted over centuries of fashion: where they came from, what they meant, and specifically how they became modern again. I have concurrently shown that I could “read you” in this subject, but I would rather reckon with the fact that many are clinging tightly to cultural divisiveness and leaving home without library cards.
Just like sometimes Picasso was Matisse’s Mondrian, and vice versa. Bowie is often my Mondrian, as are Michael Jackson, Prince, Lita Ford, and Madonna. Mugler is my silhouette’s Mondrian, Cindy Crawford is my sexuality, Kermit is my whimsy, and, in my “Born This Way” video, two of my Mondrians were Francis Bacon and Salvador Daly. In a lot of ways, the “idea” of being obsessed with art is my Mondrian. Just like Campbell’s Tomato Soup was Warhol’s Mondrian, and Marilyn Monroe and Maripol were Madonna’s. I am obsessed with all the authors in the library of pop culture.
I do not define, however, my artistry or historical relevance with one particular fashion or musical statement. And I don’t believe any of the artists I mentioned do either. Rather, I find freedom in my ability to transform and liberate myself (and others) with art and style -because those are the things that freed me from my sadness, from the social scars. Furthermore, I am in no way encouraging anyone to emulate my fashion sense, but rather setting a, hopefully, liberating example for anyone to look inside and know they can become any image or projection imaginable. I am an obsessed pop cultural expert. And, perhaps, between my music, performance art, and this column, I will be remembered as such. After weeks of writing this article I asked out loud, “What do you think YSL would think of my metaphor about his collection?” My darling hair designer Frederic replied, “You could ask Nan Kempner, but she’s dead.” Now that’s a queen who never left home without her library card.
1. Mirrored bikini inspired by Bolan Scuba Suit, Mugler runway model walk, a past romance with drugs and costume jewelry ä la Scorsese. Lobster Philip Treacy hat.
2. For those of you who’ve never had it, it’s a retro chewing gum that comes with whimsical stick-on temporary tattoos.
Memorandum No. 2
(V72 Fall Preview 2011)
Date: JULY 2011
Re: I DON’T SPEAK GERMAN BUT I CAN IF YOU LIKE
From: M+SS GAGA
To: STEPHEN GAN
Copy to: MRS. VREELAND / HAUS OF GAGA / V COLLECTIVE / LITTLE MONSTERS / THE WORLD / FASHION-SEXUALS / PHILIP TREACY / MY LIVER / MY MOLE / MY PEARLS / MY WIGS / MY TOBACCO CIGS / MY FIGS
Art is a lie. And every day I kill to make it true. It is my destiny to exist halfway between reality and fantasy at all times. They call me “theatrical,” but I posit profusely that I am theatre, and that theatre is me. I am a show with no intermission. It is this thing that summons me from the depths of reality and reminds me that the power of transformation is endless. That I (we) possess something magical and transformative inside-a uniqueness and specialness waiting to be exiled from the depths of our identity. I have said before that I am a master of escapism, which many attribute to my wigs, performances, and my natural inclination to be grand, but perhaps that is also a lie. Maybe I am not escaping. Maybe I am just being. Being myself.
The arrival of this revelation revises my previous escapist philosophies, as my entire being, thus far, as wholly artist and wholly human, has been propelled by the idea that I must effortlessly vacillate between two worlds: out of the real and into the surreal. Out of the ordinary, into the extraordinary.
“I DON’T SPEAK GERMAN BUT I CAN IF YOU LIKE.”
But as I delved quite deeply into this topic for my current album, I’ve reckoned that perhaps there is no pendulum. No need to distinguish between artifice and consciousness. The “notion” of escapism may be a lie, but for some of us this lie is our truth. You must desire the reality of fantasy so profusely that it becomes necessity, not accessory.
The lines for myself have become so blurred now, I know not the difference between a moment of performance and a moment of honesty. If you were to ask me to remove my Philip Treacy hat at a party, in truth it is the emotional and physical equivalent of requesting I remove my liver. Talk about giving “clutching her pearls” a new meaning! I know not the difference between the hair that grows from my head and the teal wigs that grow from my imagination. They are the same. They are both honest, and always have been. So maybe I know nothing of “the art of escapism.” I was just BORN THIS WAY. I revere the dream to be real. I am always, and shall forever be, private in public.
In this lies one of many books in the Bible of Fashion: in order for the FANTASY OF YOU to become the REALITY OF YOU, you must commit to the fantasy as wholeheartedly as you commit to your humanness. Wear out your vision. Proclaim your mission. Amen, Fashion! Style can transform and release your internal superstar. Whether it be one pair of shoes, some vintage sunglasses, a family heirloom, or a hair color that makes you feel as electric on the outside as you do on the inside. Acknowledge that this choice is a manifestation of an internal magic and the potential of your spirit. You are fan-tas-tic. And this fantasy is part of the real and honest you. It is a lie inside, waiting to be unlocked to become true. Scheiße. I just spoke some German.
Memorandum No. 3
(V73 Fall 2011)
Date: SEPTEMBER 2011
Re: EXTREME CRITIC FUNDAMENTALISM
From: M+SS GAGA
To: STEPHEN GAN
Copy to: MS. VREELAND / HAUS OF GAGA / NICOLA FORMICHETTI / V COLLECTIVE / LITTLE MONSTERS / THE WORLD / ART HISTORIANS / INTELLECTUALS / JOURNALISTS / COLUMNISTS / CATHY HORYN
Doesn’t the integrity of the critic become compromised when their writings are consistently plagued with negativity? When the public is no longer surprised or excited by the unpredictability of the writer, but rather has grown to expect the same cynicism from the same cynic? When we can predict the same predictable review from the same predictable reviewer? Accomplished creators of fashion and music have a visceral effect on the world, which is consequently why they are publicly distinguished. So why do so many notable critics seem so impervious to the emotion of the work? Why such indifference? Does intellectualism replace feeling? It’s so easy to say something is bad. It’s so easy to write, “One star, hated it, worst show of the season.” It’s much more challenging to reckon with and analyze a work. It requires research, but maybe no one does their research anymore. So my question, V readers, is this: when does the critique or review become insult and not insight? Injury and not intellect?
I’m going to propose a term to describe this movement in critical journalism: Extreme Critic Fundamentalism. I define this term as instilling fear in the hopes and dreams of young inventors in order to establish an echelon of tastemakers. There is a difference between getting a B- in Biology with a series of poignant red marks from your teacher and being given a spanking with a ruler by an old nun. The former we can learn from, while the latter is just painful. The artist is the general and captain of his or her artistic ship, always ready and willing to take the first blow and drown if an iceberg is hit. But in reviews, should critics not reveal all the scientific, mathematical, and pertinent information to explain why the Titanic could not withstand the blow, or why other cruise ships were successful?
- The temperatüre of the water.
- The construction of the ship.
- The weight of the cargo.
- The number of passengers.
- The disorganization of the crew.
Where my argument leads is to the perspective space of art, which is subjective and not ultimately rooted in mathematics or physics. Is it not even more critical for fashion and art critics to be profusely informed not only in art history but in the subliminal? The public operates with the assumption that critics are experts in their respective fields. But are they? Does every critic have the soul to really receive a work in the transcendental sense? The out-of-body experience of art?
In the age of the Internet, when collections and performances are so accessible to the public and anyone can post a review on Facebook or Twitter, shouldn’t columnists and reviewers, such as Cathy Horyn, employ a more modern and forward approach to criticism, one that separates them from the average individual at home on their laptop? The public is certainly not stupid, and as Twitter queen, I can testify that the range of artistic and brilliant intellectuals I hear from on a daily basis is staggering and inspiring. In the year 2011, everyone is posting reviews. So how does someone like Ms. Horyn separate herself from the online pack? The reality of today’s media is that there are no echelons, and if they’re not careful, the most astute and educated journalists can be reduced to gossipers, while a 14-year-old who doesn’t even have a high school locker yet can master social media engines and, incidentally, generate à specific, well-thought-out, debatable opinion about fashion and music that is then considered by 200 million people on Twitter. Take Tavi Gevinson. She’s 15, and Rodarte created an entire project inspired by her. Her site is thestylerookie.com. I adore her, and her prodigious and well-written blog is the future of journalism. The paparazzi has similarly been usurped by the camera-toting everyman. That magical moment of the movie star posing in front of the Metropolitan Museum is no longer so magical. Now everyone has a fucking cell phone and can take that same fucking picture.
Why do we harp on the predictability of the infamous fashion critic? The predictability of the most notoriously harsh critics who continue writing their notoriously harsh reviews? Why give the elephant in the room a peanut if it has already snapped its trunk at you? That peanut was dead on arrival. To be fair, Ms. Horyn, the more critical question to ask is: when did the pretense of fashion become more important than its influence on a generation? Why have we decided that one person’s opinion matters more than anyone else’s? Of all the legendary designers I have been blessed to work with, the greatest discovery has been their kindness and their lack of pretense. They care not for hierarchy or position. They are so good, and so precise, that all that matters to them while they’re pinning their perfectly customized garment to my body is the way it makes me feel. Perhaps the pretension belongs in formaldehyde. And the hierarchy is embalmed- for us all to remember nostalgically, and honor that it once was modern, but is now irrelevant. Peanut.
Memorandum No. 4
(V74 Winter 2011)
Date: NOVEMBER 2011
Re: REMODELING THE MODEL
To: STEPHEN GAN
Copy to: MS. VREELAND / HAUS OF GAGA / NICOLA FORMICHETTI / V COLLECTIVE / LITTLE MONSTERS / THE WORLD / ART HISTORIANS / INTELLECTUALS / JO CALDERONE
My study of gender manipulation, though not a new endeavor in the fields of art and fashion, has been both revealing and terrifying -perhaps my most emotionally challenging performance to date. Beginning as an invention of my mind, Jo Calderone was created with Nick Knight as a mischievous experiment. After working together tirelessly and passionately for years, eating bovine hearts, throwing up on ourselves, giving birth to an alien nation and an AK-47, Nick and I began to wonder: how much exactly can we get away with? Given the nature of this V Magazine issue, an exploration of “the model,” I felt it appropriate to investigate, in diary form, how the past few months of my work have been a deliberate attack on the “idea” of the “modern model,” or, in my case, the “modern pop singer.” How can we remodel the model? In a culture that attempts to quantify beauty with a visual paradigm and almost mathematical standard, how can we fuck with the malleable minds of onlookers and shift the world’s perspective on what’s beautiful? I asked myself this question. And the answer? Drag.
Nick and I photographed Jo, omitted his biological sex, and shopped the photographs around to men’s fashion magazines. The cover of Vogue Homes Japan, a major Japanese men’s publication, was a coup to say the least, exciting mostly because we had convinced the editors that Jo Calderone was a male model and had sold his look as the next big thing. Nick Knight, a photographer with intuition that borders on godly, wondered immediately if they would be able to feel my spirit in the photograph. He wondered, knowing good and well his photographs were marvelous and utterly masculine, if there was still no way to mask my intensity as a performer. What an interesting venture it was, because, in truth, really brilliant models have the chameleonic ability to transform into new creatures all the time. So why should I be any different? Was our experimentation devious? Or is it nobody’s business whether or not Jo has a cock in his pants? It was a few weeks later, after the cover was printed, that Nick said to me, sweetly, “Gaga, I believe Jo has to sing.”
I wrestled with this idea. Would it be convincing? What was the purpose of the piece? And if I were to do it, what would its significance be in relation to my work as Lady Gaga? Yes, this is me, but in the fantasy of performance I imagined (or hoped) the world would weigh both individuals against one another as real people, not as one person playing two. Lady Gaga versus Jo Calderone, not Lady Gaga “as.” That would be the intention of the process, to co-exist with an alternate version of myself in the same universe. So I reasoned, how could remodeling my current image ignite a statement or revelation about me as an artist? What is the new model of the performer and how can I push the boundaries? The answer was that Jo would not just make a statement about me as a performer, but would reveal things about me as a woman. I decided then that there was only one way to execute this piece: Jo and Gaga had to argue.
As I began to reckon with Jo, I found it important to excavate what he didn’t like about me, or rather, what I struggle with liking about myself. Concurrently, I felt it necessary to imagine what the public expects of me during a performance of this magnitude -the opening of the VMAs – and how I might destroy this expectation in a variety of ways. On a stage, the laws of fantasy are meant to be broken, but I have always found it difficult to bring my real pussy out there with me. (Or do I bring it out there and just don’t know it?) I have always feared that the reality of love, if brought into the spotlight, has the potential to destroy creativity. Needless to say, the line between fantasy and reality is blurred in my life, as this psychobabble may indicate, so I drew upon my personal experiences to initiate a deeper parallel. Do my lovers feel like an extension of my audience? Because I refuse to draw a distinction between what’s real and what is artifice, do they feel a part of the show? How can Jo become more relatable and lovable than I am?
During my performance and the three days I spent as him, I felt permission through him to confess things about myself as a woman, things I would normally keep hidden. In a way, it seemed that he could get away with a lot more than I can. He talked about his feelings, wore Brooks Brothers, smoked Marlboro Lights, drank beer on stage, and talked about what I refuse to discuss publicly: my relationships. It was by remodeling myself into something completely foreign, and in some ways crafting the anti-pop performance, that the complexities of “the model” began to unfold. For someone known as much for her image as for her music-and this has become my model-the presence of Jo in no way eradicated my spirit from the stage. I was still ever-present, and, in fact, more myself than ever. Jo had a clean slate. Jo had no past or future to answer to. Jo existed only in that moment, as I chose for him to.
By remodeling the “model artist,” “model citizen,” or “supermodel,” we can liberate the present. The transformation detaches the model from any universal paradigm and allows him or her to reinvent perspective in a pure, unattached moment. Within the different archetypes of our psychology, which part of ourselves can tackle an obstacle with more honesty or strength? Is it a farce to transform? Or is it an injustice to “the model” to treat him or her as a prototype? How will you remodel yourself and discover which model is best for today? Use every ounce of potential you have, raise revolution against what people expect of you, and tell the world this is not a rehearsal. This is the real me. And listen up, ’cause it could be the most honest incarnation yet.
Memorandum No. 5
(V75 Spring Preview 2012)
Date: JANUARY 2012
Re: NOTES FROM DESIGNERS
From: M+SS GAGA
To: STEPHEN GAN
Copy to: MS. VREELAND / HAUS OF GAGA / NICOLA FORMICHETTI / V COLLECTIVE / LITTLE MONSTERS / THE WORLD
“It is always stimulating to work with Lady Gaga because it allows my imagination to roam free in order to create genuinely theatrical stage costumes, as was the case on this occasion. Lady Gaga is an artist with a huge personality and amazing stage presence. I was attracted by her genuine interest In fashion and design, which she projects with a conviction that knows no limits-and which she definitely considers a vital ingredient of her career.”
Manish Arora (Then Artistic Director of Paco Rabanne)
“Daring, far beyond fashion and beauty, Gaga’s style is unpredictable, iconoclastic yet iconic and out of time. She is now and tomorrow, between fantasy and reality… she is a statement of re-creation, a piece of art.”
“Gaga gives the world her music and her talent, but the thing I like most is that she fights against boredom and banality. She also puts forth an ever-changing, inspiring, and strong image—an image beyond fashion. She is an extreme concentrate of ‘zeitgeist,’ freeing us from the heavy boredom of publicly displayed political correctness by being herself more than politically correct. Something in today’s world would be missed if there would be no Lady Gaga because Gaga is a Lady.”
Memorandum No. 6
(V76 Spring 2012)
Date: MARCH 2012
RE: MORE PEARLS PLEASE
To: STEPHEN GAN
Copy to: MS. VREELAND / YANKEES / METS / THE BRAIN OF THE INDUSTRY / MIKIMOTO / MOLLUSKS / CLEOPATRA / ALL PLAYERS, COACHES, ALL-STARS, AND CONFUSED VETERANS
“Nobody likes the game that they’ve won over and over again to change.”
So for the Sports Issue of V, I suppose some of you wondered if I would vacation for the month. Perhaps I would come up with some benign excuse, or feign some sort of city-girl confusion: write about sportswear? Or sports where? When, in fact, I grew up a huge baseball fan. Google now “Lady Gaga at the Mets game, ” and you will find a photograph of a not-so-sober version of
Natalie Azua myself flipping the Bronx cheer with my friends. Which deemed problematic, as we weren’t actually in the Bronx.* [See Footnote]. It was the first time in nearly two years that I was actually being scolded by my father-partly for misbehaving in public and partly for attending a Mets game. But that’s the beauty of baseball, isn’t it? I was able to drown myself in so much whiskey, beer, and Italian sausage that after two years of touring the world I: (A) completely forgot that I am famous, (B) was completely wasted indeed, wearing my costume from the “Telephone” video, and (C) am still confused as to how the paparazzi spotted me. What a lady.
Well regardless, this story came to mind when my editor e-mailed me for article copy for this issue and I thought, What a revelation! What a challenge I could rise to and truly show my appreciation for this thing we call “the game.” So, ladies and gentlemen, V readers, this is a theory on competition. The integrity of ambition. A Winner’s Verité. Look out fashionistas, in this issue when talking about sports, even you may catch a few home runs. Yes, I said that, home runs. Let me just put on my sports…where?
2011 was one of the most exciting and difficult years of my life. I made this internal pact with myself when I put out “Born This Way.” This time, when I win,” I want it to mean something. How can every “win” be a force? Not a tiara, a pat on the back, or the cashing of a check, but how can I look out into the sea of fans and know that our “win” changed the industry and changed each other?
I wonder how many thousands of years ago the first pearl was discovered. In fact, I wonder who discovered it. Was it a fisherman? Or did Cleopatra, on her yacht, summon a mollusk? Did her fabulous male makeup artist hang it on a tiny spear and say, “Oh dahhhling, on your ears!” I thought of the pearl during my exploration of “the game” because as an accessory, pearls are the most game-changing and timeless of them all. There’s no crime or conflict surrounding them, they are natural and perfect, and they are gifted as a gesture of elegance and womanhood. For thousands of years they’ve never gone out of style, and to this day no one knows when or how they were discovered. They have no sense of time or beginning. They are cyclical in nature and in existence.
Christmas this year was the first time I really bought myself anything nice. I don’t equate money with style, nor do I equate it with happiness. I’m often content hiding in the back of places like Claire’s, schlooping costume jewelry into a basket.
However, it just so happened I was in Japan, and I decided to buy myself a strand of Mikimoto pearls. Why wait for a lover to buy you jewelry, lover yourself! After the year Japan had and the experiences I’d shared with the people there, I thought it would make for a beautiful memory. The staff from Mikimoto arrived, we cracked open some champagne, and my buddy Brandon and I tried pearls on and swooned. I quickly decided that I couldn’t only buy one for myself. I would feel terrible. So I made it about the girls: one for my mother, my gorgeous and talented sister, and Bo, my best friend. It was to be a sign of our womanhood, a thank you for fostering mine, for my sister a sign of things to come, and for my mother a strand of pearls to represent each of the blessings she had cultured for our family over the years.
I lay down on the airplane back from Japan, tossing around some dashi, fondling my pearls. I watched the movie Moneyball for the first time. I began to laugh and smile as (Brad] Pitt talked romantically about the game. I suddenly imagined that my pearls were teeny-tiny baseballs. When a player hits a home run, the baseball is flung into an abyss of enigma and screams so great. It travels so far that only rarely is one caught in the bleachers. Where do these balls go? Where do all these wins get encased? Are they in a heavenly baseball land floating around for players who pass to acknowledge? Or do they disappear?
By the end of the film, we discover the truth about winning from our hero. It only matters if you’ve changed the game. Being kicked in the teeth is par for the course for this kind of win, a win that not only pisses off the team you’ve beat, but every other team, their coaches, owners, and even some of the greatest baseball players of all time. You’ve made your own set of rules and gone so far on your own talent, no one can possibly crack the truth behind your wins. You were either lucky or were cheating. Nobody likes the game that they’ve won over and over again to change.
Pitt expresses this as the central objective to his life, as we see a flashback to an old Oaks game. Batter hits and runs, doing what he does normally, running past first to take second, but trips, falls, and scurries back to first. He’s so focused on the game, so focused on the team winning, head so down into the dirt of the stadium, he doesn’t even realize he’s got a home run. The crowd roars, and he’s not sure why.
In this moment, I looked down at my pearls, and I saw all the teeny-tiny home runs I’d hit over the past year. I knew some of them were more perfect than others, but I knew only an eye trained in pearls would notice. The thing about music is you’re not in competition with anyone else. You’re in competition with the psychology of the industry as a whole. You’re in competition with you. You must delve deeper and deeper into your creativity, history, and modernity to change not just this moment, but every moment that came before it. How can I hit a home run that will make every player question every run that was ever scored? How can I round third to home plate and bewilder some of the greatest players of all time?
How can I change the game, until 30 years goes by and someone changes it again? Sometimes my face is buried so deep in the work I forget to look up. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’ve won, because the stadium is either cheering or screaming so loud it doesn’t even matter. So this season, in the spirit of the Super Bowl and all things sporty, wear your pearls. Wild, cultured, real, or fake, wear them proud. And look up, or rather down, at all of your home runs. (Unless you’ve made them into a crown with a glue gun.) Then look up! In fashion and in life, we all deserve more pearls, please. A moment of revelation to remember that we are timeless, we all matter, and every win like this is as important as the next. When you are changing the way people think, your life achievements are working toward the greatest accessory of all time: nerve. So collect your tiny baseballs, string your pearls, and remember that you are as timeless as the pearls on your neck.
*The Bronx cheer is a double bird (or when one flips off anyone using both hands) and is a wonderfully typical sign of a devout Yankees fan.