Cat Lady Chic

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I am a Wikipedia junkie. I'm prone to time-warping through what I refer to as "Wikipedia rabbit holes." It usually starts with a headline on Yahoo! news. Take, for instance, Saturday's featured Yahoo nugget on child star survivors. It mentioned Drew Barrymore, who was recently featured in the HBO film Grey Gardens. Her performance in the film is garnering acclaim from critics, so I went to IMDB to see the details, and I discovered that Grey Gardens chronicles the sensational story of the riches-to-rags branch of the Bouvier family tree. And that's when the time-warp opened up and sucked me into the Wikipedia rabbit hole.

I found myself fascinated by Jackie Kennedy's aunt and cousin, both named Edie, who took a spacious estate in the Hamptons and turned it into a feline infested garbage dump. Both women aspired to stardom, had haphazard careers that never really took off, and ended up squirreled away in the playground of the rich and famous performing skits for one another until the health inspector showed up to evict them.

That's when the story became tabloid fodder and spurred Jackie O to spend more than $30,000 to clean up the mess. But just two years later, the women had once again allowed Grey Gardens - an estate with one of the most notable gardens in the Hamptons - to drift into disrepair. Ironically, it was their eccentricity that finally led to their fame when the 1975 documentary Grey Gardens made them cult icons.

"Little Edie" suffered from alopecia and wore colorful, dramatic headscarves to mask her condition. Though she lived in a weed-choked dilapidated house filled with catfood cans and raccoon feces, Little Edie managed to pioneer a fashionable garbage chic that turned her into a style icon.

The squalor's extremity was appalling; and yet, the photographs depicted a house well-loved with touches of whimsy and affection. And the women looked curiously happy. The whole story was fantastical - the kind of truth you'd swear was fiction. Perhaps my preoccupation, my willingness to go down so many rabbit holes, was my own predilection to derelict spaces. You could almost imagine Little Edie pirouetting through the dashes of sunlight slanting through holes in the roof, skipping around piles of moldering books, skirting broken furniture and humming a tune...one that only she could appreciate.

1 comments:

JennyRay said...

We recently watched the most current movie and the 70's documentary in on my Netflix queue. So fascinating and disturbing all at the same time!

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