When I read the shocking news (on Facebook) that the Queen of Disco Donna Summer had died, my thoughts first went to the best scene in The Full Monty which featured “Hot Stuff” as the soundtrack. If you haven’t seen the movie, do yourself the favour!
I also assumed, like so many celebrities who die too young, that she may have suffered from an overdose. Donna’s death, however, came at the hand of lung cancer, likely developed after she inhaled toxic dust particles in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center.
Donna Summer’s parents were devout Christians and she became a born-again Christian herself after releasing one of my favourite songs, She Works Hard for the Money. Donna wrote the anthem after an encounter with an elderly bathroom attendant at a Grammy Awards party.
Donna’s first public performace was at Church at the age of 8 after the pastor invited her to sing in front of the congregation. Summer surprised everyone, including herself, with the strength of her voice and she said she heard God say to her, “You’re going to be famous and this is power and you are never to misuse this power.”
When she died, Summer was living with her long-time husband whom she married back in the 80s and they had two daughters together.
The New Hope Baptist Church is where I served and preached my first sermon. I didn’t know Whitney, she had already left… Minister of Style: Until You’ve Walked a Mile in My, Her Shoes
New York fashion week is a perfect time to focus on how abusive this unregulated industry is towards young women. The Guardian: The Ugly Truth of Fashion’s Model Behaviour
If we all know what we should be doing – why aren’t we blissed out, self-loving goddesses every second of the day? Dramatis Personae: The Lazy Gal’s Guide to Self-Love
Why not make this day about something more than either cliched consumerism or ritual ranting. Daily Good: Valentine’s Day Wisdom
The bill, its sponsor concedes, has little chance to pass, but the hope is to raise awareness of body issues. MSNBC: Arizona considers consumer alert on ads showing airbrushed women.
Fall seven times, stand up eight! Marc and Angel Hack Life: 10 Good Reminders for Stressful Times
Numerous people have written into Vogue, stating that the photo does not capture Adele because it has been ‘enhanced.’ Examiner: Vogue Trims Away at Adele
I’ve come to believe in Tim Tebow for what he does off a football field, which is represent the best parts of us, the parts I want to be and so rarely am. Daily Good: I Believe in Tim Tebow
What if there were a way to change bad habits without willpower, and with almost no effort at all? No Meat Athlete: The Simplest, Most Important Key to Changing Anything
Changing your life might appear to be a heavy task…But really it all starts with a small step in the right direction. It’s All About Women: Top Ten Life-Changing Tips
The problem is, we go too fast to hear its cues and/or we’ve been brainwashed not to trust our bodies. Weightless: Finding Peace With Food and Our Bodies
Right now, 88% of women in India resort to using dirty rags, newspapers, dried leaves, and even ashes during their periods, because they just can’t afford sanitary napkins. Daily Good: The Inventor Who Disrupted the Period Industry
One professor is exploring how Beyoncé has altered America’s views on race, sex and gender. S2S Magazine: Rutgers Offers Course on Beyonce
I learned via Citizen Rosebud on Facebook that legendary singer Etta James has died of complications from leukemia. She would have been 74 on Wednesday. I discovered the singer in university thanks to one of my roommates who later noted that I gave him Led Zeppelin in return for Etta James. I became obsessed with her music, trolling second hand record shops and collecting every Etta album I could find. I would listen to her alone and in the company of friends and her music became the soundtrack of my life. I challenged anyone to not like Etta. Even the most die hard rockers and jocks would fall in love with Etta when introduced to her.
She had a universal and timeless appeal and yet remained somehow on the outer edges of superstardom, partly because she was a little bit unruly and unapologetically raunchy. Having had the unparalleled pleasure of seeing Etta perform in Toronto I can tell you she was a woman in touch with her sensuality. I am unable to choose a favourite among the too many great Etta James tunes so here’s one that demonstrates her unabashed sexuality:
Go to The Beheld for an interesting piece on Janis Joplin and beauty.
Dolly wrote “I Will Always Love You” in 1973 and Whitney Houston covered it in a huge way for The Bodyguard soundtrack in 1992.
Recorded in 1977, the duet by the unlikely pair of David Bowie and Bing Crosby was called “surreal”. Bowie said he did it because his mother was a Crosby fan.
1984′s Do They Know It’s Christmas set the stage for a slew of recordings in aid of famine relief and predated the massive Live Aid concert the following summer.
Love the Matt Dillon cameo!!
Run-DMC’s Christmas in Hollis appeared on the debut A Very Special Christmas album in 1987. The series has raised over $100 million dollars for The Special Olympics so far.
River by Joni Mitchell, written in 1970: the emotional musings of a Canadian girl living in Southern California. It’s been covered a trillion times and never gets old.
Yes I know you’ve heard Thriller 10,000 times today but have you seen the dance routine?
If you’re old enough to remember the release of the video in 1983 you’ll recall all the fuss over a feature film director (John Landis) directing a music video and that the dance routine above was considered highly sexualized for a music video of its time (really!) Thriller is one of the most influential music videos ever produced and in 2009 was inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, aesthetically” significant. Halloween will always give us an opportunity to remember the massive influence Michael Jackson had on music, dance, and popular culture.
Kristy Elena posted some photos of “gritty New York” on Full-time Fabulous, the blog she’s writing for Sunglass Hut on a year-long contract based in Manhattan. In the post she asks for our personal perceptions of the city. My response? “New York is the most amazing city on earth filled with all the best creative minds in the universe.”
Each and every time I visit NYC my mind is blown from the moment I step off the plane. People there seem so alive and friendly and you need only introduce yourself to a New Yorker to find yourself with a lifelong ally. And they always want to DO things for you. I was waiting for the shuttle at LaGuardia which would take me to the subway en route to the city. When the bus pulled up I discovered I’d need exact change for the bus which I didn’t have. Without missing a beat, the girl behind me insisted on paying for me with her Metro card. She said she had an extra fare on there but I think she was just being nice.
The airport shuttle takes you to 125th street subway in Harlem (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd!) It’s so funny when people ask me if I feel safe in Harlem, to which I reply “well, I’m not afraid of black people, so yes I feel safe.” Each time I visit New York I experience an internal shift in consciousness as a result of the unbelievable creative energy there. Here are some of my favourite things about New York:
What do you love about New York?
More than a designer, Alexander McQueen brought us the world in his runway presentations. Boheme Noir: Alexander McQueen Runway Moments
Is Mick Jagger and David Bowie’s Dancing in the Street “the gayest video ever”? Wendy Brandes: What won’t be in my next collection
Getting my groove on in life and in leopard. Self-worth activist Anika shares the story of her journey to self-love
For all you vegetarians, some meat-free recipes from former fashion editor, Ceri Marsh. Sweet Potato Chronicles: Meatless Mains
Some timeless truths on women’s capabilities brought to you by my new favourite website, The Hairpin: Women Can Do So Much
And some shameless self-promotion inspired by Winona Ryder’s comeback. Fortylicious: It’s OK to Look Your Age
So, what inspired you this week?
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Duran Duran were my favourite band back in the 80s during the period before I discovered U2 and Depeche Mode. Their androgynous good looks and new wave fashion sense were as big a part of their appeal as the music. I still find old textbooks with I Heart Simon LeBon inscribed on the inside covers.
At a recent dinner party we played a little game in which we each wrote down something no one else at the table knew about us. We then threw our papers into a hat and read them aloud individually, guessing who said what. On my paper I wrote: “I was in love with Simon LeBon.” One of the gay guys at the table read my entry out loud and then said drily, “Oh, that could be so many people at this table.”
In honour of Duran Duran’s staying power I present a retrospective of the band’s fashion-forward appeal. Editor’s note: I’ve only included shots of the original five members because who were those other interlopers anyway? (Ok, not strictly original)
If you were never a fan of Duran Duran I’ve just bored you to tears or possibly annoyed you. If you were a fan, who was you favourite?