August 24th, 2003


The Emperor's Clothes

It isn't possible to escape Angelina Jolie as yet. The Sunday paper held an interview with her and more information about humanitarian work. High in the mountains of Ingushetia, banners of her face are slowly shredding in the morning breeze. As the people of Grozny try and resurrect some kind of life, adolescents patrol the streets in improbable silver suits with crotch strap gun holsters and issue grunts as they climb and shift the square blocks that Russian special forces have left around the streets. The townsfolk wonder whether they should spend quite so much looking at these bright reflective arses as they bob up and down and through the piles of blasted concrete. Nights are filled with distant electric hums and game noise chatter. Life slowly returns to Chechnya.
I had forgotten that she was Jon Voight's daughter. Celebrities now build dynasties and, in time, they will no doubt coalesce into identifiable clans of power and allure. It was charisma, perhaps as much as the sword, that led people to follow these leaders once upon a time. When I look at America, with the President's son now President and the President's wife warming up in the aisles, soon there will just be various iterations of Presidents in different forms. They grow them in tanks. Sometimes a head will bob up to the surface. Not yet, the orderly snarls, you've some more cooking to do.
So here we are at the crest of a Jolie wave. It should be possible to chart the wax and wane of celebrity exposure as films open, affairs commence, marriages end. You could chart them and even construct some monstrous installation in three dimensions. Where we would exist in the spaces between these events. Trying to build a house of refuge as an enormous shard of Demi Moore crashes through the roof on its way to an aftershow party. A crystal world of chemical attractions, molecules seeking stronger bonds, the rest of us miniscule ants scuttling through a cardboard Tokyo. I wonder why I buy the newspaper any more, when it reads like a vast anagram for Satan.
Sat in hotel room in Tbilisi this summer, waiting for the Tour de France to come on, watching Fashion TV. Faces, figures, a kind of beauty, endlessly repeated until you feel nothing more. A dark magic being performed. A possible new line in clothing - abusive fashion. Clothes that sexually abuse their wearers. Weave a permanent edge of horror and disgust into your lives. Do you know what this Alexander McQueen is doing to me at the moment? Sheesh, that's nothing, you should try wearing these Dior hotpants. What beautiful chaff marks you have my dear...
Armstrong displayed his impressive offroad cycling skills at this point and I fortunately managed to lose this train of thought. Went out into the rest of the day, pressed my hands, lips and face against icons. Remembered there is still another world here. Went to a restaurant by the river and ate sturgeon.
"You have been here before." The waitress commented.
"No. This is my first time."
"You were here last week."
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