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This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Friday
Feb112011

In Which This Must Not Remain So For Long

False Beard

The diary of Franz Kafka in the year of our lord 1911 reveals the most sensitive, perceptive artist of a generation. In turn of the century Prague he was a Jew among Jews among Gentiles, noticing every glance and putting off every task as if it were addressed to him alone. The eldest of six, he was conflicted about his father and basically everyone he met. He had yet to begin any novel writing; he began his first story ("Description of a Struggle") proper at the tender age of 20 and worked on it at times until it was published in 1905. Rather than assuming a forward-thinking shape of a whole, Kafka's early writing approached the elephant on a diagonal, finding in glimpses what he would eventually discern at length. The following selections from his diary are abridged from longer entries.

31 October 1911

When on Sunday afternoon, just after passing three women, I stepped into Max's house, I thought: There are still one or two houses in which I have something to do, there are still women walking behind me who can see me turn in on a Sunday afternoon at a house door in order to work, talk, purposefully, hurriedly, only occasionally looking at the matter in this way. This must not remain so for long.

1 November

This afternoon the pain occasioned by my loneliness came upon me so piercingly and intensely that I became aware that the strength which I gain through this writing thus spends itself, a strength which I certainly have not intended for this purpose.

2 November

This morning, for the first time in a long time, the joy again of imagining a knife twisted in my heart.

8 November

All afternoon at the lawyer's about the factory.

The girl who only because she was walking arm in arm with her sweetheart looked quietly around.

When I was waiting at the lawyer's I looked at the one typist and thought how hard it was to make out her face even while looking at it. The relationship between a hairdo standing out almost at the same distance all around her head, and the straight nose that most of the time seemed too long, was especially confusing. When the girl who was reading a document made a more striking movement, I was almost confounded by the observation that through my contemplation I had remained more of a stranger to the girl than if I had brushed her skirt with my little finger.

9 November

Schiller some place or other: The chief thing is (or something similar) “to transform emotion into character.”

11 November

I will try, gradually, to group everything certain in me, later the credible, then the possible, etc. The greed for books is certain in me. Not really to own or to read them, but rather to see them, to convince myself of their actuality in the stalls of a bookseller. If there are several copies of the same book somewhere, each individual one delights me. It is as though this greed came from my stomach, as though it were a perverse appetite. Books that I own delight me less, but books belonging to my sisters do delight me. The desire to own them is incomparably less, it is almost absent.

12 November

A tall, powerful man of fifty with a waistline. His hair is stiff and tousled (Daudet's, for example) although pressed fairly close to his skull. Like all old Southerners with their thick nose and the broad, wrinkled face that goes with it, from whose nostrils a strong wind can blow as from a horse's muzzle, and of whom you know very well that this is the final state of their faces, it will not be replaced but will endure for a long time; his face also reminded me of the face of an elderly Italian woman wearing a very natural, definitely not false beard.

14 November

Tuesday. Yesterday at Max's who returned from his Brünn lecture.

In the afternoon while falling asleep. As though the solid skullcap encircling the insensitive cranium had moved more deeply inwards and left a part of the brain exposed to the free play of light and muscles.

To awaken on a cold autumn morning full of yellowish light. To force your way through the half-shut window and while still in front of the panes, before you fall, to hover, arms extended, belly arched, legs curved backwards, like the figures on the bows of ships in old times.

Before falling asleep.

It seems so dreadful to be a bachelor, to become an old man struggling to keep one's dignity while begging for an invitation whenever one wants to spend an evening in company, having to carry one's meal home in one's hand, unable to expect anyone with a lazy sense of calm confidence, able only with difficulty and vexation to give a gift to someone, having to say good night at the front door, never being able to run up a stairway beside one's wife, to lie ill and have only the solace of the view from one's window when one can sit up, to have only side doors in one's room leading into other people's living rooms, to feel estranged from one’s family, with whom one can keep on close terms only by marriage, first by the marriage of one's parents, then, when the effect of that has worn off, by one's own, having to admire other people's children and not even being allowed to go on saying: “I have none myself,” never to feel oneself grow older since there is no family growing up around one, modeling oneself in appearance and behavior on one or two bachelors remembered from our youth.

16 November

From an old notebook: “Now, in the evening, after having studied since six o'clock in the morning, I noticed that my left hand had already for some time been sympathetically clasping my right hand by the fingers.”

19 November

This evening I was again filled with anxiously restrained abilities.

3 December

My recent reading of Mörike's autobiography to my sisters began well enough but improved as I went on, and finally, my fingertips together, it conquered inner obstacles with my voice's unceasing calm, provided a constantly expanding panorama for my voice, and finally the whole room round about me dared admit nothing but my voice. Until my parents, returning from business, rang.

Before falling asleep felt on my body the weight of the fists on my light arms.

9 December

Stauffer-Bern: “The sweetness of creation begets illusions about its real value."

13 December

Because of fatigue did not write and lay now on the sofa in the warm room and now on the one in the cold room, with sick legs and disgusting dreams. A dog lay on my body, one paw near my face. I woke up because of it but was still afraid for a little while to open my eyes and look at it.

It is almost a custom for a comedian to marry a serious actress and a serious actor a comedienne, and in general to take along with them only married women or relatives. The way once, at midnight, the piano player, probably a bachelor, slipped out of the door with his music.

Young Pipes when singing. As sole gesture, he rolls his right forearm back and forth at the joint, he opens his hands a little and then draws them together again. Sweat covers his face, especially his upper lip, as though with splinters of glass. A buttonless dickey has been hurriedly tucked into the vest under his straight black coat.

The warm shadow in the soft red of Mrs. Klug's mouth when she sings.

Jewish streets in Paris, rue Rosier, side street of rue de Rivoli.

If a disorganized education having only that minimum coherence indispensable for the merest uncertain existence is suddenly challenged to a task limited in time, therefore necessarily arduous, to self-development, to articulate speech, then the response can only be a bitterness in which are mingled arrogance over achievements which could be attained only by calling upon all one's untrained powers, a last glance at the knowledge that escapes in surprise and that is so very fluctuating because it was suspected rather than certain, and, finally, hate and admiration for the environment.

Before falling asleep yesterday I had an image of a drawing in which a group of people were isolated like a mountain in the air. The technique of the drawing seemed to me completely new and, once discovered, easily executed. It is certain that Sunday can never be of more use to me than a weekday because its special organization throws all my habits into confusion and I need the additional free time to adjust myself halfway to this special day.

The moment I were set free from the office I would yield at once to my desire to write an autobiography. I would have to have some such decisive change before me as a preliminary goal when I began to write in order to be able to give direction to the mass of events. But I cannot imagine any other inspiriting change than this, which is itself so terribly improbable. Then, however, the writing of the autobiography would be a great joy because it would move along as easily as the writing down of dreams, yet it would have an entirely different effect, a great one, which would always influence me and would be accessible as well to the understanding and feeling of everyone else.

18 December

I hate Werfel, not because I envy him, but I envy him too. He is healthy, young and rich, everything that I am not. Besides, gifted with a sense of music, he has done very good work early and easily, he has the happiest life behind him and before him, I work with weights I cannot get rid of, and I am entirely shut off from music.

26 December

List of things which today are easy to imagine as ancient: the crippled beggars on the way to promenades and picnic places, the unilluminated atmosphere at night, the crossed girders of the bridge.

5 January

For two days I have noticed, whenever I choose to, an inner coolness and indifference. Yesterday evening, during my walk, every little street sound, every eye turned towards me, every picture in a showcase, was more important to me than myself.

Excuses for Max Brod

I am now half delighted that I am actually studying at last, and for that reason will not come to our cafe this week. I would very much like to be there, because I never study after 7 o’clock; but if I do take a little change of this kind, it disturbs my studies all day the next day. And I daren’t waste any time. So it’s better for me to read my Kugelgen in the evening, a splendid occupation for a little mind and for sleep when it comes. Love to you

Franz

Now, dear fellow, I shan’t be able to go out anywhere for a bit. The Dean has been so irresponsible as to fix my finals a little earlier and as I was ashamed to be more cautious than he, I’ve made no protest. All my love,

Franz

Dear Max

Forgive me for yesterday evening, please! I shall come to your place at five o’clock. My excuse will be a little comic, so you are quite sure to believe it.

Franz

My dear Max

I am a completely useless person, really, but nothing can be done about it. Yesterday afternoon I sent you a letter by special messenger: “Here in the tobacconist’s in the Graben I beg you to forgive me for not being able to come tonight. I have a headache, my teeth are falling out, my razor is blunt, I am an unpleasant object to look at. - Your F.

And now in the evening I go and lie down on my sofa and reflect that I have made my excuses anyhow, and that there is again a little order in the world, but as I am thinking it over, I suddenly remember that I wrote Wladislaw street instead of Schalen street.

Now, please, I beg of you, be annoyed about it, and don’t speak to me any more because of it. I am utterly on the downward path, and - I can see far enough for that - I can’t help going to the dogs. Also I should love to cut myself, but as that is impossible, there is only one thing I can rejoice about, and that is that I have no pity on myself, and so I have at last become egoistic to that extent. We should celebrate achieving this height - you and I, I mean; just as a future enemy, you should celebrate it.

It is late. I should like you to know that I wished you a very good night tonight.

Your Franz

My Max

I am in such a bad way that I think I can only get over it by not speaking to anyone for a week, or as long as may be necessary. From the fact that you won’t try to answer this postcard in any way, I shall see that you are fond of me.

Your Franz

"Walked Out On A Line" - Okkervil River (mp3)

"Mermaid" - Okkervil River (mp3)

"Calling And Not Calling My Ex" - Okkervil River (mp3)

I do not envy particular married couples, I simply envy all married couples together; and even when I do envy one couple only, it is the happiness of married life in general, in all its infinite variety, that I envy - the happiness to be found in any one marriage, even in the likeliest case, would probably plunge me into despair.

I don’t believe people exist whose inner plight resembles mine.

Thursday
Feb102011

In Which We Learn How To Correctly Prepare A Canvas For Painting

I Paint

by MOLLY LAMBERT

Because I didn't go to art school, a class in the painting department was out of the question. Instead I signed up for the introductory painting class in the illustration department. The illustration department was a sort of more old style branch of the school, like what I imagined a 1950s art school to be like. The idea that you could teach somebody how to make art seemed as ridiculous to me as the idea you could teach someone how to write. You either could or you couldn't. You can or you can't.

I was deciding between drawing and painting. Like most people, I maintain a variety of side talents that I can imagine could be my main talent if only I were a little more focused on it, and I am very talented at drawing. I spent the majority of my school years drawing in notebooks during class and while my style is more caricaturish than strictly realistic, I am pretty fucking good. So the prospect of drawing in a real art class was exciting, as was that of life models, which seemed really official and traditional. But given the choice, the asceticism of drawing; the discipline and repetition verging on tedium, the limited supplies? It didn't stand a chance against the painting class. 

Painting, with all its accessories and trappings, had mystique I could not explain. It appealed deeply to my Irish-Catholic half, the side of me that enjoys going to botánicas and cataloguing sins and saints. But it mostly had to do with paintings. With the way that observing certain paintings could induce really powerful feelings in me.

I wanted to see what I had inside. The same way I was sure I could write a great song if I only knew how to play the guitar, I was convinced I had paintings in me. I was sure they would come out of me as soon as I got a brush in my hand. That when I had a little technique and a canvas in front of me it would be impossible to contain them.  

On the first day of class I ran into a really pretty girl I kind of knew who had inspired me a few months before to stop wearing bras entirely after seeing her at a restaurant in a wife-beater without one. "Wow, cool" I'd thought admiringly, "She doesn't give a fuck. And neither do I!" I tend to overdo it when I go to an extreme. She was on her way to the drawing class, and encouraged me to come so we could be in it together. I thought about it for a second. I loved making friends, especially very attractive ones. But I was really committed to the idea of the introductory painting class. To painting.

Every week after that I'd see her in the stairwell. We'd greet each other, then she'd turn the other way to head into the drawing class. Even when I didn't see her I would imagine her going to the drawing class to sketch and long to have followed her that first day. Being good at drawing, it turned out, had no bearing on other kinds of art. 

The painting teacher was a tall willowy bald man in a tunic with the kind of round frame glasses favored by older artist types. He commuted in weekly from New York. He was cold, with a zen master manner that appealed to me. I decided immediately that I liked him. In retrospect he was gay but I never thought about it at the time. During the first class he showed us some of his recent work; a series of grayscale oil paintings of the interior of a washing machine. "This guy is fucking serious," I thought admiringly.  

I was a senior in college, avoiding thinking about what I was going to do exactly after graduating. My boyfriend of a year had gone abroad and I was unprepared to feel so weird about our breakup. I'd decided not to do a thesis because a big project that was due all at once and mostly unsupervised seemed like the worst possible idea for a Ferris Bueller finish everything at the last minute person like me. But my friends were incredibly busy, and I had too much time to think about how I really felt (terrible).

Painting seemed like an elegant solution to all my problems. In lieu of a thesis, it would give me one thing to focus on. Going down to the art school would provide variety in my routine and I could devote all my unspoken for spare time to working on my paintings. To becoming a painter, a thing I was sure I could also be. It didn't occur to me that I might later resent my own arrogant blitheness that it would be easy.

I bought as many art supplies as I could afford, which was not all that many because I learned quickly that oil painting is a truly expensive pursuit. I was attracted to the accessories, the tinctures and tools. But I'd had no idea just how many accessories there really were, how much alchemy and liniment went into preparing the canvases. How familiar I'd soon become with the nightmarish poetic phrase "rabbit-skin glue."

I might have known some of this if I had asked any of my many, many friends who painted and took art classes even the most rudimentary questions about what a painting class might entail in advance of signing up for the painting class at the art school. But I had just charged in confidently like an idiot, like I generally always did.

The first few weeks of the class knocked the arrogance right out of me. I couldn't do anything. I had no knowledge, no background, no color theory. I thinned the paint wrong. I held the brush wrong. I couldn't mix colors correctly to save my life. Everyone else in the class seemed to know exactly what they were doing. They could all paint.

I asked for help every minute, but it didn't help any. I was terrible. Relentlessly terrible. Terrible in new and inventively terrible ways, ways that seemed to baffle the teacher and any classmates who caught a glance of my canvases. There was a wall between me and being any good at painting, and I could not get over the wall. I could barely even make out its sides. But I felt it there in front of my face, blocking me from my goal.

All we painted were still lifes. There would be three set-ups and over three hours, and each session was a lesson for me in abject failure. I was the worst person in the class by a long shot and it was humiliating. I fucking sucked. The teacher would come stand near me and just sort of shake his head. He was right to be confused. Why was I there?

Our homework was the same as the classwork. Three still lifes, a different color scheme each week. I went to the art building on my campus and set up my easel and materials by the picture window. I was jealous of the studio cubicles, especially of the clippings taped up inside, your own space to just dwell on inspirations and ideas.

Having a cubicle means you are a real artist, I thought. I saw the real artists I knew, working on their thesis projects, utterly consumed in themselves. "Why didn't I do a thesis? Why didn't I write a novel? Or short stories? Because I am a fucking idiot."

Then I tried to paint the shells that I was looking at again, and failed. Each attempt a failure in a totally different way. In one the shells are much too pink. In another the arrangement appears two dimensional. I found a new way to fail every time. I painted slower, then faster. Sober, then high. I went to the studio drunk and ended up falling asleep on the bench in the lobby. I woke up and outside the glass it was snowing.

I began to dread painting, because I dreaded being terrible. I hated the endless inevitable failures that were my attempts at translating an image from real life onto a canvas. I did not enjoy being terrible at it, and the classwork and homework were so rigid that there was no possibility of adjusting the subject matter to my outsider style, as I had done in other fields such as dance. I wondered a lot why it was that I so vehemently couldn't enjoy something I wasn't good at. How egotistical that was.

I was accustomed to picking things up easily, impressing and occasionally frustrating others with the seeming effortlessness with which I could pick new things up at will. There was no picking up painting. It was hard work and I was out of my depth. And I could tell. And the teacher could really tell, and he was getting sick of my excuses.

I had been able to bullshit my way through a lot of things in life, but I could not bullshit a painting. Furthermore, there was no failing, because I had already failed a class earlier in the year. I needed the credit to graduate. I stopped going to class.

My refusal to attend coincided with a big snowstorm after a long weekend and I wrote off the first couple weeks of missed classes as weather related. The third week I was just slacking and knew it. The teacher knew it too. He e-mailed to say he'd fail me if I didn't show up the next week. "This guy is fucking serious," I thought irritatedly. 

I came back to class and tried to be less of an asshole, but was almost definitely even more of one in this attempt. The only place I really thrived in the class was during the critiques. Oh I had opinions about everyone's paintings. Positive ones! I could talk all day about what I liked about one painting or another. I loved talking about what I liked about things. I was still the worst painter but I sure talked the most during the crits.

I thought a lot about this tendency I had, towards language. How when I saw a tree I immediately began describing it in my head. I had talked about it with my boyfriend right before he'd left. He had countered that he never did that. That when he looked at the tree he saw only the tree. And if he started to break it down, it was into colors and shapes. Images, not words. I didn't understand. He never read for pleasure either. 

Painting seemed more mystical than ever. Now that my fantasy of being good at it had been destroyed and replaced with the truth (that I sucked) I was in complete awe of anyone with any painting talent. Anyone who was better than me was a genius. I admired those with talents I couldn't master. It was like being good at a sport. 

I continued to go to class. I stopped dreading failure. I didn't expect failure, but neither was I devastated when it happened. My ego was no longer in it. I had no natural talent for painting, but that didn't mean none could be cultivated. Sometimes I'd feel as though I had gotten one detail about the set-up across in my painting, and that would satisfy me enough to keep going. I had a couple of stupid winter hats, and whenever I wore one I was mistaken for an art student (and then asked directions).

It was not sudden but I began to understand. I started to look at things differently. I learned to think about the quality of the light. How things appeared to be different colors depending what time of day it was. How to observe buildings. How to describe without words. How this was a whole other language, a universal one, and I did know it. I had just been trying too hard to force everything into my own native dialect. 

We stopped doing still lifes and started painting nudes. I liked the life models. I felt connected to my own brushstrokes and color choices in a way I previously hadn't. Whatever it was I was trying to comprehend, I couldn't possibly put it into words, and I understood now how that was the point (zen master indeed). I had climbed the wall.

As with any fallow time, when I think about this period of my life I just wind up romanticizing it. I remember how cold I was and how heartbroken, how thwarted I felt and how hurt. I see myself riding my bike to the studio through the snow, listening to Southern gangsta rap on headphones, the music you listen to that helps blunt your feelings (rather than the miserable music you use to indulge them) with my portfolio slung over my shoulder. How determined I must have looked. It makes me laugh.

I proposed a series of paintings of small toys for my final project and was approved. I hung out with my other recently single friend who was an actual painter and we worked on our art in her attic room which had a big awesome skylight. We smoked joints and listened to Electric Light Orchestra albums on her record player while we painted. That I thought I was miserable that semester seems so ridiculous now.

I had no idea if I was going to pass the painting class given those three absences, and passing was necessary for my graduating, and graduating seemed crucial given how much money I was now (am) in debt for. I was nervous regarding a lot of other things about my immediate future, absolutely none of which would turn out to matter at all. 

When I think of the thing I might have written that semester had I dedicated myself to it I feel no remorse. No regret that I failed to take on a big writing project instead. No curiosity about what I might have produced. It would never have been any good. You cannot produce something great on purpose or on schedule. The painting class was more important, akin to psychedelics. It was the most important class I ever took.

The teacher surveyed my final project; small still lifes of toy cars. In his affectless tone he said something measuredly complimentary about my curve towards improvement and I felt myself stir with deep pride. How could I tell him how much it meant that he had tolerated me, had humbled me, had let me learn the lesson for myself? And then how much I had learned? I couldn't tell him, so I didn't. I passed painting with a C.

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. She twitters here and tumbls here. She last wrote in these pages about her feud with Jack Nicholson.

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Wednesday
Feb092011

In Which Nothing About Audrey Hepburn's Ex-Husband Interests Us

The Dark Side of Audrey Hepburn

by ALMIE ROSE

Nothing about my ex-husband interests me. I have spent two years in hell – surely the worst in my life.

More than once, I was at the station seeing trainloads of Jews being transported, seeing all these faces over the top of the wagon. I was exactly the same age as Anne Frank. We were both 10 when the war broke out… if you read [her] diary, I’ve marked one place where she says, ‘Five hostages shot today.’ That was the day my uncle was shot.

I admit that people have often said they never really get to know me. But does anyone ever know someone else completely?

 It’s become cliché for teenagers and young women of our generation to love Audrey Hepburn. For some reason girls of the 90s grew up with an affinity for Hepburn to where it became, "Welcome to college, here’s your Breakfast At Tiffany’s poster for your dorm room." That film is based on a dark novella in which Holly Golightly doesn't get her cat back, doesn’t get the guy, and is generally a horrible person. But in the film, it’s not even really clear that Hepburn plays a prostitute. That completely went over my head the first time I saw it. I thought she just liked to wake up early and put on a party dress. Also there’s that horribly racist Mr. Yunioshi character that Mickey Rooney threw in there. So I guess if you really analyze it, there is a dark side to the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, just not in an obvious way.

And that’s the thing about Audrey Hepburn. She has darkness but it isn’t obvious. The problems of Marilyn Monroe became part of her legend but Audrey’s were carefully tucked away in a Givenchy handbag. A friend of mine once despaired about a fight she got into with a rude friend of a friend. She didn't even know this person and yet she was torn up about it. When I asked her why it bothered her so much, she said it was because she strived to be like Audrey Hepburn, and "no one ever said anything bad about Audrey Hepburn."

Challenge accepted.

She is a rank amateur who needed a dozen takes. – Humphrey Bogart

Bogart hated working with Hepburn, but he had a point. Though she had come off a major film (Roman Holiday) for which she won an Academy Award, her success was partly due to luck, timing, and the graciousness of her costar Gregory Peck, who insisted on giving the unknown equal billing. Before Roman Holiday Hepburn starred in the play Gigi. Paramount actually considered her "plump" and put her on a strict diet of steak tartare and greens before filming. (You know Hollywood is fucked up when Audrey Hepburn is put on a diet.) Hepburn herself never believed that she was thin.

According to her son, Hepburn would refer to herself as “fake thin” because her upper body and waist was especially thin and would give her an overall appearance of slightness. One can’t help but roll their eyes at her claim because, well, look at her. Rumors of an eating disorder plagued her, but if you consider World War II an eating disorder, then yes, she was very disordered. In 1944 Nazis occupied the Netherlands, where she and her mother lived.

Audrey and her family, with the exception of her Nazi sympathizer father, worked for the resistance. She suffered severe malnutrition and once had to hide in a cellar for a few days. When she was a child she almost died of whooping cough. This, combined with her poor nutrition during the war, lead to her asthma. Despite the fact that she had weak lungs and knew it, she continued to smoke for the rest of her life, even though she was consistently told that she "might be in the early stages of emphysema." Yes, it was the fifties and sixties and smoking was a vice, but even someone in that era with those symptoms would know it was a bad idea.

In the 80s she lamented over the condition of her skin, but it was typical of her to point out flaws. She would often call herself ugly and wished that she had a bigger chest. It is of course these "flaws" that have made her so iconic, but it’s very possible she had some form of body dysmorphic disorder or at least a very low self-esteem.

Her weight plummeted to an all-time low during her first divorce from her controlling and jealous husband Mel Ferrer. A child of divorce and with a child of her own, Hepburn desperately wanted to make the marriage work, but Ferrer's likely infidelity and definite need for complete control over Hepburn’s professional and personal life sent her into a deep depression. The man had to be a total asshole for Hepburn to refer to her divorce as "two years in hell" considering that she spent most of her early teens dodging Nazis.

During the separation Mel stayed with Hepburn but only out of concern for her health; she was apparently, according to a friend, "down to 82 pounds and looks thin and wan; she has never looked so frail in her life, even when she was ill." Again, quite the statement, considering that Hepburn compared her youth to Anne Frank's.

Their divorce was described as "absolutely unexpected" not only to her fans and the media, but their friends as well. One of them, Dee Hartford Hawks, said that only two weeks before their separation she ran into them at a nightclub in France and that "Audrey and Mel were acting like honey-mooners. They danced every number together – even the Watusi." The Watusi!! Who could have predicted this?? A second miscarriage also put a strain on their already frail marriage.

In an article by Tom Daly from the 1960s, he reported that Audrey attempted suicide twice. Once she tried to slit her wrists and it was Mrs. Yul Brynner who got her to the hospital in time. An unnamed insider said that "I've heard about Audrey’s suicide attempts, too, and that shocks me, but in a way I’m not surprised. Whatever that woman does she does with her whole heart and soul. And when she married Mel, she invested everything she had emotionally. It’s no wonder that she feels lost now." And it’s no wonder that so many sources (aside from Bogart and Hawks) wanted to keep such scandalous thoughts to themselves because Audrey was revered and famous for her elegance and charm. In an article "The Two Hepburns" (not referring to Katharine and Audrey, but to Audrey’s light and dark sides), Eliot George tapes into this darker side of Hepburn: "The wispy, sable-browed, gamin-faced Audrey is either Elfin Charmer or Iron Butterfly, depending on where you stand."

Another person who had plenty of bad things to say about Hepburn was Brenda Marshall, William Holden’s wife at the time that Holden and Hepburn shot Sabrina. Hepburn and Holden carried on an affair. (It was ironic that later in life Audrey would try so hard to create the perfect family and do anything for her children, though she slept with Holden well-knowing that he was married with three kids.) Holden would invite Hepburn over to his home for dinner and he, Audrey, and Marshall, who eerily resembled Hepburn, would all eat together. "Audrey felt guilty all through the meal." No! This is Watusi shocking!!

Everyone assumed that Holden would leave Marshall for Hepburn but as soon as she found out that Holden had a vasectomy and could not provide her with children, she left. Holden was also a crazy drunk who died when he fell and hit his head on his coffee table and didn’t realize that it was serious so he didn’t go to the hospital and just kind of bled out to death in his living room. Charlie Sheen has nothing on William Holden.

Paris When It Sizzles, 1964

Holden and Hepburn would reunite about ten years later for the film Paris When It Sizzles, which one column described as "the worst movie ever made by anyone at any time." It was also around this time that Hepburn's marriage slowly and painfully began to unravel, and one can see the stress this put on her body. Even for Hepburn, she is unusually thin in his movie, and it may have been the only time in her life in which the eating disorder rumors were true. Holden tried to reignite their affair, but this time she was the married one and would not cave in.

People think of Hepburn as ever humble and ladylike but even she had her moments of divadom and snarkiness. While filming The Nun’s Story in Africa, Hepburn demanded that, "quarantine laws in the Belgian Congo would be waved for [her terrier] Famous […] and most important of all, that a bidet would be installed and waiting for her... It was probably the only bathroom fixture of its kind in Central Africa at that time." Slyly ironic considering she was playing a nun and nuns are all living without possessions. She did routinely visit a leper colony and refused to wear protective gloves "out of sympathy with the afflicted." She then likely went to her guest house and freshened up in her bidet-equipped bathroom.

While filming My Fair Lady she wouldn’t let Ferrer see her until her street urchin Eliza Doolittle look was completely washed away, though even though this look consisted of mere soot dotted on her face, Vaseline smeared in her hair, and dirty finger nails, and of course she still looked stunning. After retiring from film she married second husband Andrea Dotti and announced, "Now Mia Farrow can get my parts." Perhaps she meant it as a way of passing the baton over to another doe-eyed actress, but there is a certain edge to the comment, considering that after divorcing Mel, Hepburn "emerged with a hairdo even short than Mia's!"

Though people praise her for aging gracefully, perhaps the most shocking Hepburn quote ever was given during a 1980s interview with Harper’s Bazaar: “I think it’s [plastic surgery] a marvelous thing, done in small doses, very expertly, so that no one notices.” Not even Nicole Kidman will admit to her notoriously frozen face, but here was a beauty icon freely praising plastic surgery.

It is just another part of Hepburn’s life that most people breezily skip past. She is more than that waif figure forever posed in that little black dress on 5th Avenue. She came from a god-awful childhood, suffered from depression, got divorced twice and had an affair. There is nothing new or evil about any of these things, but it is interesting that these aspects of her life remained hidden. Monroe was just as sweet, just as loving, but her secrets spilled out and are still notorious. Why is Hepburn so sacred? Granted, the work she did with Unicef was immense and admirable, and nothing should detract from that. But why must she be a goddess? She was human, like any of us. She had flaws.

And Grace Kelly really was a slut. I stand by that.

Almie Rose is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is the creator of Apocalypstick. She last wrote in these pages about her life with rapper Kanye West.

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