Entertainment » Culture

Out There :: We Knew She Was No Good

by Roberto Friedman
Saturday Aug 8, 2015

Last week Out There attended a reception for the new exhibition "Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait" at the Contemporary Jewish Museum/SF. It's an intimate and intriguing look at the back-story of the gifted singer-songwriter whose life ended tragically in addiction and alcohol poisoning. As arts critic Sura Wood wrote in last week's B.A.R. review, except for a video of her performing "Back to Black" live, there is no musical component to the exhibit, an odd omission for a show about a musician. So we went back to black, listening to her slim catalog of recordings.

Kudos to the CJM for including the performance of the title song from her 2006 CD "Back to Black," which in its explicit lyrics could not be considered child-friendly. It begins, "He left no time to regret/Kept his dick wet/With his same old safe bet." Ain't that always the case.

In "You Know I'm No Good," Winehouse sings, "Upstairs in bed with my ex boy/He's in a place but I can't get joy./ Thinking of you in the final throes/This is when my buzzer goes." There's friskiness in the bathroom: "I'm in the tub, you on the seat/Lick your lips as I soap my feet."

Oh, Amy. On "Me & Mr. Jones," she sings, "What kind of fuckery are you?/Side from Sammy you're my best black Jew/But I could swear that we were through/I still want to wonder bout the things you do." That's Sammy Davis, Jr. to the rest of us.

On "Love Is a Losing Game": "Five story fire as you came/Love is a losing game." On "Tears Dry on Their Own": "I should just be my own best friend/Not fuck myself in the head with stupid men." Amen, sister.

Then of course there's her mega-hit "Rehab," in which she gloats, "They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no no no." In light of her life's tragic trajectory, the song leaves us with a queasy aftertaste. Especially in light of what we now know about daddy Mitch Winehouse's ulterior motives and bad behavior from Asif Kapadia's frank documentary "Amy," the song's lyrics elicit our horror and pity: "I ain't got the time, and if my daddy thinks I'm fine/They tried to make me go to rehab, I won't go go go."

Western Skies

When the photographer Rick Gerharter told us he was planning to go go go to the 2015 Coeur d'Alene Art Auction last month in Reno, Nevada, we asked whether we could tag along. It's the world's largest auction of art devoted to the American West (cowboys, Indians, saddles, landscapes). Thinking that our readers might be interested in the world of Western-themed art, we contacted the auction's administrators asking for a press pass to the event, adding that we would be accompanying a photographer. We received the following reply:

"Roberto, Thank you for you interest in the auction. However, we are a private, low-key event, and are not looking for more publicity. We do not allow outside photographers in the room due to privacy concerns for our clients.

"Sincerely, Mike Overby, The Coeur d'Alene Art Auction."

Well, okay then! In place of whatever coverage we were going to give, we'll leave this blank space:

But, as it happened, we were in Reno for the city's annual Artown celebration of art, culture and expression, a mass of events and exhibitions every July. Also last Saturday, we participated in the Northern Nevada Pride festival, which consisted of a parade and a music fest/celebration in Wingfield Park, on the banks of the scenic Truckee River. (It's separate from the Reno Pride festivities, coming up this month.)

The parade only lasted for three blocks or so, but it was full of good cheer and gay enthusiasm. It wasn't crammed full of preening politicos and corporate propaganda as the SF Pride Parade is (the Mayor of Reno did appear). A gentleman standing nearby, asking where we were from, opined, "Well, this parade can't possibly measure up to the one in SF!"

"But it takes a whole lot more guts to march in a gay parade in Reno than it does in SF," we countered. We cheered on the participants gaily.

That night we attended a "Burner" event, Compression! Fire and Art, many fire-based artworks and attendant buzz taking over a closed-down Virginia St. A huge fireworks display lit up the sky. Reno had come through, spectacularly, for us yet again.

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