Miranda on Rihanna (and Vice Versa)

Speaking of columns and pieces that speak to me in a unique, authentic voice .. this thing on Rihanna by Miranda July is a good example.

Rihanna wearing a Swarovski Crystal dressI am actually hestitant to mention it.

Because I can see how easy it would be to suck you in.

But perhaps I can point out some of the highlights ..

.. of exactly what spoke to me and how. (And maybe even why.)

But first, how do you even get a gig like that, Miranda?

Does RiRi pick you? Or agree to who they send?

I am curious about the behind-the-scenes negotiations.

"But who will go for us?" .. "Here I am," Miranda said, "Send me!"

But starting at the end .. the final (and lingering) flavor that the reader comes away with from your piece .. is one of muscular authenticity.

Which means that you pulled it off. And with a flair, too. Because that it what the bad girl is all about. And your writing style reflected that.

[ I confess that I am curious if you did that intentionally or subconsciously. ]

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» One of Her First Interviews in Years (Pressure)

I was struck that this was "one of her first interviews in years." Which only increases the pressure on you. But also on the v.a.l.u.e of the interview. Because of its rarity. The preciousness of the thing.

In other words, she raises the value of these interviews by spacing so much distance between them. Which would tend to make the assignment feel more like a gift than a job.

As you can probably tell, I found myself putting myself in your shoes (so to speak) .. which also seems to happen on its own. But the reader somehow feels like he went along for the ride .. and I feel not only impressed by that, but even grateful. It's like we climb right in the car with you.

When you wrote:

The driver said it would be about an hour and a half to Malibu, a long time to resist telling him where I was going.

"I'm going to meet Rihanna," I finally yelled over the radio.

.. I thought, "I would not be able to keep that secret for that long, either."

I loved it. I mean, if it were me, I'd be like, "What do you want me to write?"

[ Tho I am curious about how they deal with the celebrity and the challenges and pressures that accompany it. Celebrity has killed more than a few musicians. ]

» Tell Me a Secret .. Off the Record, Of Course

The romantic flirt in me would probably wanna make like Barry White and say, "Tell me a secret. Not just any secret. I wanna know a s.p.e.c.i.a.l secret."

Then I would reach over and turn off the recorder and say, "Off the record, of course."

You read things about how some of these mega-stars claim to be so lonely .. and it just seems .. so unbelievable.

But I am also very much interested in their singing. (Because that is the thing that makes them a singer.) Does she have a singing coach? A singing instructor? (All of the singers that I have ever known all went to weekly singing lessons .. and had for many years.)

What goes on inside them when the words are coming out as song? You know .. what goes into producing the sounds that they create? Is this something that they can even articulate?

What things make singing easier? What things make it more difficult?

» Soulfullness vs Manufacturing the Dimensionality of Celebrity Persona

Before I get too carried away here .. which I can already feel myself doing .. I want to mention the main ooh-la-la thing that I came away with. And that was where you wrote »

Rihanna isn't meta like that. She hasn't created a persona around herself like Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Madonna or so many other stars at her level. She doesn't have to manufacture dimensionality, because she actually is soulful, and this comes across in every little thing she does.

I was actually sitting outside, at night, under the stars .. just resting at the end of the day .. when some of the things that you wrote started coming to me .. seemingly on their own ..

.. like they do, sometimes, with stuff Egan writes, or some of the other gifted opinion writers there at the Times. But even more pronounced. And surprisingly persistent.

And it came as something of an epiphany. Epiphany is too strong of a word, but you catch my drift .. my chemo drift.

There was definitely a wow thing behind it. I was obviously impressed. That's when I felt my respect for you grow two full steps. And that's when I knew I would be writing a little something-something.

I mean, you set up the piece by asking everybody, "What makes Rihanna great?" [ which is the theme behind the parent article, which itself is very cool, and I am wondering who had the idea ] and, "What makes her the real deal?"

These are great questions .. because they are not easily answered .. as you found.

But when I tried to get anyone to pinpoint things she had said or done -- particular interviews or incidents -- everyone became lost in inarticulacy.

So you are going to answer them yourself. (What heuvos you have.)

The reader comes away with a hint of sexuality. And even intimacy. Did you intend that? Are you consciously channeling the bad girl's persona? Or reflecting it?

» An Authentic Signature

See what I mean about getting carried away so easily? This stuff gets me going. I should probably mention a part that I found particularly authentic .. is where you wrote:

Oumarou nodded solemnly and I pressed play: ''You know what? If I ever go to West Africa, it would probably be for a free concert.'' Rihanna's slight Barbadian accent was familiar to me now. ''I would want to do something for the people there. Maybe we can make a whole event, the way Bob Marley would have done it. Just for the people..."

You actually interrupt her recorded dialogue here to inject mentioning her familiar accent. Wow. That was very cool. And I am not even really sure why. Nor do I know if other readers would feel the same, regarding authenticity and its recognition.

[{ There is an instinctive trust .. that comes with people who resonate with Bob Marley. This makes me like her. Because you cannot over-estimate the value of trust .. here in the twenty-first century.

Plus, she helps bring the thunder. You know.

Did you notice, by the way, who won the Man Booker award this year?

(Here he is interviewing Brad Pitt. He wrote the piece to reflect the nature of the interview .. just like Miranda did. I could write pages about what spoke to me about this piece. The Times is getting these super-cool writers to interview celebs who would naturally be guarded being interviewed. Hemingway basically said that you never want to be interviewed for a piece like this .. because they will fuck you over. Did you notice how Uber is everywhere?) ]}

On the topic of authenticy .. remind me, Miranda, to tell you about what the Dog told me .. about meeting with Salman Rushdie .. and the effect that it had on me regarding my image of him .. an image of an authentic person.

"Usually the super will take you around and show you the building .. but he took me around himself."

That totally gave me respect for him.

Another thing that I gave you mad authenticity points for was this line » "It was hard work maintaining a light buzz for so long, but it paid off."

Why does that do it for me? I'm not really sure, to be honest .. but it does. Maybe it makes it easier for me to put myself in your shoes. Because I can see myself doing that .. and it is something that I have done myself. (Tho admittedly, not while waiting for Rihanna to show up at her first interview in a long time.)

I also liked the way you say "here she was" and not "there she was". Because it brings her closer.

I also noticed places where you used present-tense verbs instead of past-tense ones, which tends to yield a similar effect (more immediacy now).

[ I have since asked the google about you and the google says that you dont need my credits for authenticity. And after looking around for a while, I had to agree. ]

» Miranda Gets Some Nectar-of-the-Gods On Her

And I was totally feeling you where you wrote » "Before stepping inside my house, I lifted my blouse to my face; her perfume was still there."

Because this is what lovers do. [ I have good stories to share on this topic. And I get excited just thinking about them. ] And this is also why I put the Vice Versa in my heading title.

Cuz it looks like you got some Rihanna on you, girl. That's gotta feel pretty good. I would imagine. The nectar of the gods. Does it feel all sparkly? Or like warm honey?

I could go on-n-on about all the things that spoke to me. Lots of little things, such as, "With a shaky finger..." [ My shaky finger is » here. ]

» Not As Easy As I Make It Look

When I read this sentence » "Almost every night, when you're asleep, Rihanna is in the studio." .. it made me think of what I wrote about the first time I got out of jail.

And this tells me that » "Being Rihanna is not as easy as I make it look."

» A Curious Coincidence

But your coincidence is very strange, no? I mean, you could've called Uber and requested a driver who had previously met Rihanna .. and nobody woud be surprised if they said, "Lady, look, we got hundreds of safe, reliable drivers .. but none of them have ever met Rihanna."

Including the driver in your piece seems unconventional, but you used him deftly to reflect her from another perspective. A dramatically different perspective, no?

Did you just get lucky here? Or were the gods smiling on you? (Maybe because of her? Because they obviously smile on her. That is not difficult to see.)

It is far beyond the scope of my comments here, but there is a school-of-thought out there that says there are no coincidences. And a part of me embraces this concept. Because there are many levels to human life, to human existence ..

.. and I intuitively feel that the level of connection in a curious coincidence may simply be deeper (or higher) .. if we were able to see these many levels.

Living Life » In-the-Moment

I particularly took note where you wrote:

"You're a 'next-moment' person," she surmised. "Not an 'in-the-moment' person."

"Yeah," I admitted, knowing that this is the wrong kind of person to be.

[ Tell me, Miranda .. WHY .. is this not the kind-of-person to be? Other than the obvious .. that in-the-moment people make better lovers. ]

Because my buddy the Dog is very much an in-the-moment person. And he kinda takes you into-the-moment with him .. when you spend time with him.

It's not an easy thing to do .. living in the moment. But it makes you feel like you're the most important person to him .. at least, for the time you spend with them. Their conscious presence makes you feel loved .. which is what comes thru from your piece.

But her comment says she is still perceptive and aware .. despite all the (distracting) flashbulbs going off around her.

» Jealous of Miranda

She must be practiced at the art of putting-at-ease people around her .. who are naturally twitterpated and disoriented by the flash-bang that comes with close proximity to mega-celebrity.

.. she said, motioning for me to move my chair next to hers and out of the sun, and I did. Now that we were side by side ..

That musta been nice. If I were a jealous writer, that would be the place to feel jealous.

» The Age of Feeling Bulletproof (Without Tequila)

She's 27 .. that's a good age. For anybody. The years from 27 to 33 .. that is prime fun time. For many reasons. You learn a lot in your early twenties and gradually start to figure things out. The confidence that comes with experience combined with the physical strength and stamina that comes with youth.

I say 33 because that was the age at which I experienced the first inklings of a physically decline. Before that I was pretty much bulletproof. In my 20's I sometimes felt like I had tooo much energy .. and didnt know what to do with it all.

Regarding you yourself, I particularly enjoyed where you wrote » ".. at that age my mom was still hoping I might go back to college and get a real job." That made me smile. I assigned you points here in the 'authenticity' category, and probably a few others.

» Taken to Malibu by a Singer

I couldnt help but notice that you did the interview in Malibu. I once dated a singer myself [ actually, more than once, I've always had this thing for them ] and I remember her saying, "We should live in Malibu."

She took me there once and we met with her niece who was attending Pepperdine, who lived in a sunny micro apt in town. "She's still at work. But she said she'd leave a key under the flower pot. Oh, look .. here it is. Let's go in and fool around."

That evening we went to an outdoor play under the stars at an outdoor theater off of Topanga Canyon, where you brought your own chairs and sat on a steep hillside that had rows cut into it.

I had never experienced anything quite like that before .. having grown up on the East coast. After the first half, it started getting chilly and she broke out the blankie .. that we shared. The voice in my head saying, "Dude, this is pretty sweet, no? .. this southern California action."

Wooden decking for a stage below us and a giant oak tree which formed the stage's overhead canopy, where the lighting was mounted.

We brought a bottle of wine and plastic glasses and saw Chekhov's Three Sisters. Very cool experience .. outdoors, under the stars. Enchanting. Similar to watching the Pagent of the Masters at the Irvine Bowl in Laguna.

» Rad Kudos

Anyway, kudos to you. You must be pleased with how it turned out .. especially considering the pressure.

I would be lying if I said there werent a voice in my head saying, "Dude, this girl is stealing fire from the gods .. she is gonna get in a lot of trouble. The gods dont like it when you steal their fire."

There is a part of me that is curious » "Is this girl p.a.r.t of this? Or did she just get caught up in it?"

Have you seen this thing? It seems that people can come away from your piece with different impressions, different perspectives. Where lies the line between being (merely, genuinely, sincerely) complimentary and flirting?

See .. I told you that these kinds of topics can suck you in so easily. So much for writing a few paragraphs about what spoke to me and why. Because I could go on. And I havent even captured any representative images yet. ■

Update March 28, 2016 » Jon says here that Rihanna is very good at being famous. 'Exceptional' is the word he uses (4th paragraph) .. linking to Miranda's interview as a reference.

I would have to agree. She does indeed make it look easy. Tho I doubt that it is.

I found this sentence telling » "She is doing something extremely rare in pop: trying harder the more famous she's become."

The trick seems to be .. not letting the celebrity overwhelm the human. Where the celebrity grows to such a point .. that it consumes the human. The human aspects.

I wonder if she has a shrink. You need somebody to talk to .. when you go thru transformative stuff like that.

What does she see as her weaknesses? And what does she see as her strengths?

Does she prefer the cerebral sativas or sedative indicas?

Rihanna holding her Billboard Chart Achievement Award in Las Vagas on May 22, 2016May 24, 2016 » I saw you get your Billboard Award (where you also performed).

Nice, little speech. Seemed very genuine to me.

I am one of your supporters.

Good for you. I'm proud of you. And with such competition.

I could never do what you do.

You are going to pass the Beatles .. with number one songs.

And Madonna with Top-10 hits.

That's gotta put a serious torque on your cranium .. but you seem to be taking it in stride.

How do handle that kind of thing .. that very few experience?

What kinds of things do you have to deal with? What challenges and trials accompany such a thing?

What aspects of your Caribbean childhood helped you to prepare for such pressures?

How would you describe the transformative thing that such pressures represent?

What is the most difficult part of being Rihanna the public personality?

What is the most difficult part of being Rihanna the private person?

How do the two differ?

What aspects of this transformative thing differ from what you had expected or anticipated prior to actually experiencing such a thing? And how do they differ?

What did you think of Beyonce's Lemonade?

Do you like to ride roller coasters?

Do you have any phobias?

What are your thoughts about what happened to Christina?

I hope you have a Moleskine, and are writing down your innermost thoughts at night.

» Rihanna Aint Meta Like That

Mostly, tho, I am curious about your thoughts regarding what Miranda wrote about you:

Rihanna isn't meta like that. She hasn't created a persona around herself like Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Madonna or so many other stars at her level. She doesn't have to manufacture dimensionality, because she actually is soulful, and this comes across in every little thing she does.

What a statement. See the term "meta" sort of implies a » thing about a thing. But she is kinda saying that » you are thing itself.

This is a huge, fucking thing to say about anybody. I have never heard such a thing said before .. about anybody. Ever.

The thing itself .. my thoughts could slalom down any number of slopes from here. And all of them would be very cool.

And then, just so nobody gets confused about what she is saying .. she throws in the word » soulful.

The soulful thing itself.

In a way, to my ears, she is saying that despite the mega-celebrity, and all the transformative forces at play in your life (including the deformative forces) .. you are still a » real person.

A real soulful person. I do not know what you have to do in order to maintain your soul .. but I am fairly confident that it is not fucking easy.

And this is not just anybody, here .. saying that you aint meta like that. And yes, it matters. It matters very fucking much. I know you feel me.

(Speaking of real, soulful people .. next time you see Ariana, tell her that her panties are mine.)

» Hi Rihanna

July 1, 2016 » Hi Rihanna. I'm going to start writing to you now. I think that I might actually be done with Ariana .. at least, for now.

I spent the whole spring with her, so she shouldnt feel jealous.

I am going to lift out this section beginning July 1st .. and transfer it to its own page. This way, you and I can have our own little thing together. Our own unique thing.

Our own separate page. Just us; nobody else.

Ha, ha .. this is now done. Let me introduce you to our new home.

When you are a starving writer, you got to learn to be creative .. if you wanna woo the super-hotties. (I got a woo-woo thing of my own.)

Very creative, indeed. See here » What I Came For .. Intimate, Late-Night Converstions with a Singer.

The title was the thing that I have been waiting for. I didnt wanna use your name in the title. For some reason.

The end of the page titled » Miranda on Rihanna. ■

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This page contains a single entry by Rad published on October 12, 2015 10:12 AM.

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