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I recently finished reading this brilliantly named autobiography by ex-punk rocker Richard Hell. It’s everything you could want in an autobiography: egotistical, eager to divulge, and highly entertaining.

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During the latter chapters I recalled Hell’s performance in the movie Smithereens (1982), the feature film debut of Susan Seidelman, who directed Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) (Richard also had a part in this), and written by Ron Nyswaner, who penned the Tom Hanks film, Philadelphia (1993).

Smithereens tells the story of Wren, (Susan Berman) a young runaway with no discernible talent, who sees Richard’s character, a musician named Eric, as a gateway to fame. It’s very evocative of the era, with a few of The Voidoids’ songs in the soundtrack. Worth checking out if you are/were into the CBGB scene.

Many favourite artists of mine have had a go at acting.

Here’s New York Dolls frontman, David Johansen, haunting Bill Murray as a deceased cab driver (Ghost of Christmas Past) in Scrooged (1988). Johansen still acts, sometimes under his alter ego, Buster Poindexter.

 

Joe Strummer in Mystery Train (1989), Jim Jarmusch’s love letter to Elvis Presley. Here he is, holding up a liquor store with Steve Buscemi.

NB A few members of The Clash, including Strummer, had cameos as ‘Street Scum’ in Scorsese’s The King of Comedy (1982).

 

Bo Diddley in Trading Places (1983) as a pawnbroker. He doesn’t seem too impressed with Dan Aykroyd’s watch.

 

Iggy Pop as Belvedere Rickettes in Cry Baby (1990), John Waters’ comedy musical set in 50s Baltimore. Iggy’s had a few film roles over the years but Cry Baby was one of his more memorable roles. I think this clip illustrates my point.

 
Bryan Ferry as a punter in Breakfast on Pluto (2005). Incidentally, Jared Leto’s Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club looks strikingly similar to Cillian Murphy’s Kitten in this. Ferry’s isn’t a big part, more of a cameo, but it’s a good performance. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a clip of this.
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Then there are artists who straddle the actor/musician divide, like David Bowie, noted for his many sci-fi and fantasy roles, such as The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Labyrinth (1986) and The Prestige (2006).

And of course Meat Loaf, who I mentioned a couple of days ago when I visited The Frankenstein Place. Notable standouts include his role as Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), and his emotional turn as a lactating cancer patient in Fight Club (1999).

Do you have a favourite musician in a movie? Roger Daltrey in Tommy? Mick Jagger in Performance? Maybe even Tina Turner in Mad Max?

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A few months ago I displayed my friend Jolly’s creations, which included poems, drawings and pieces of art. I had forgotten about this heart on a stick, or pierced heart, made using a hollow, shiny red heart (not quite sure what it’s made of). I really like this piece and will need to find a better way to display it.

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This bare single rose is made of clay, and was produced by hand by a sculptor at the Royal Doulton factory in Staffordshire. I visited the factory as a child and was gifted the rose before I left. I like its simplicity, its starkness, and its shape.

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This black lacquered object is a puzzle box, which my Dad bought me from a German market. I love the look of this box, with its exposed wood motif. You must solve the puzzle to open the box, where you can hide anything you like: jewellery, a secret note, a photograph.

I used the newly-found items to decorate the coffee table, along with a heart candle holder I featured in my charity shop post. I also came across this cheap red and silver tea light holder in the supermarket, as well as a candle snuffer.

I hadn’t changed my coffee table books or decor in months, so added an ice hockey book for the Winter Olympics and a new title I got for just £3 in TK Maxx on Chagall. The Chagall book worked out well for the table: Russian and romantic, with a red cover. The other new book is one I bought my boyfriend for Christmas – a Taschen title on Stanley Kubrick.

You may also like to read my Russian interiors post.

I started visiting charity shops in my late teens, mostly to browse for books. Whilst charity shops are great places to pick up books on the cheap, I found that the bric-a-brac became the biggest personal draw.
Since I moved to the south of England, I haven’t yet checked out the charity shops in London, though I might have to soon.

Charity shops can be great places to find interesting things. Here I will show you some of my favourite finds.

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This creepy looking green cat was purchased from a charity shop for £1.50 and I am very fond of him. I don’t know anything about him (nothing printed on the bottom) but he was definitely well looked after. He currently resides on my coffee table.

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I bought this orange glass tea light holder also for the princely sum of £1.50. I liked the shape and the colour, which is quite a deco orange, and candle holders are always useful.

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Another candle holder, but in a very different style. I like everything about this – the way the top appears to be melting, the colour of the metals, the cut out hearts, which flicker on the walls when a lit candle is placed inside. I’m not sure what I paid for this but it can’t have been more than £2.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever found in a charity shop?

Yesterday, whilst browsing the web, I came across two articles about Dolly Parton. The first one was that someone, having tinkered with a Dolly record, produced a slowed down version of her hit song, Jolene. The result is a sound that Graham Norton called ‘Weird and wonderful’ on Twitter. Others have called it ‘heartbreaking’ and ‘hauntingly beautiful.’ I can’t argue about the backing track – it does have quite an enchanting sound – but the masculine voice? The jury might be out on this one.

The second piece of Dolly news is that over the next decade her theme park Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is planning a $300 million investment, including a new luxury hotel overlooking the Smoky Mountains, a fishing pond, and two high speed rollercoasters, the first of which is to be completed by 2014.

I found the second news item especially exciting, for I have a confession to make.

I love Dolly Parton. Not her music. Her.

Why do I love Dolly Parton? Well, her music is about as far removed from my tastes as can be, and I don’t find pneumatic blondes particularly endearing…

The reasons I warm to Dolly as much as I do can be pinpointed to the following areas:

Charity Work
No one can deny that Dolly has made millions from both her talent and her business ventures, but she also gives back to the locals. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library donates a free book every month to pre-school children in 1600 communities in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. Over 700,000 children are registered in the scheme (24,000 in the UK) and nearly 40 million books have been posted. In addition to this the non-profit American Eagle Foundation is based at Dollywood, with Dolly being their biggest benefactor. The Foundation aims to protect bald eagles and their habitat.

Business Acumen
Dollywood is the biggest ticketed attraction in the entire state of Tennessee, with around three million annual visitors. It is also the largest employer in the area, and Dolly herself has said that after making it big she wanted to “come back to my part of the country and do something great, something that would bring a lot of jobs into this area.” The expansion of the park is sure to increase employment as well as tourism in the local area.

Personality
For such a huge global star, Dolly is extremely down to earth, with a good sense of humour. She famously remarked, ‘It takes a lot of money to look this cheap’, showing she doesn’t take herself too seriously.

DreamMore is the name of Dolly’s new resort hotel, which is incidentally the name of a book she released in 2012. From her humble origins – she was brought up in a one-room cabin with eleven siblings – to her multi-million dollar empire, Dolly is proof that with hard work and determination, you really can be anything you want.

I’ve never been to Tennessee, but I doubt that I’d visit for the sole purpose of visiting Dollywood. However, I would love to explore the Smoky Mountains. I would also like to visit Sun Studio, where musical legends like Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley rehearsed and recorded. If I did happen to end up at the gates of Dollywood, I might just need to sneak in…

Dollywood http://www.dollywood.com
American Eagle Foundation http://news.eagles.org/

Letters of Note

‘Correspondence deserving of a wider audience’

Edited by Shaun Usher, Letters of Note is described by its founder as an ‘online homage to offline correspondence’.

Some of the most popular letters – and my personal favourites – include ‘Pixar don’t finish films’ – a letter written by Pixar director Pete Docter to a young fan, ‘Wilder on Wonka’ – a letter penned by Gene Wilder to director Mel Stuart, and ‘I like words’ – a letter sent to MGM Studios in Hollywood in 1934 by a Madison Avenue copywriter named Robert Pirosh.

NB The Letters of Note book comes out in October of this year.

http://www.lettersofnote.com

Messy Nessy Chic

‘Blogging on the off-beat, the unique and the chic’

This blog was founded by Londoner Vanessa (Nessy), who upped sticks and moved to Paris. This means there are a lot of Parisian-based posts, but also plenty of fascinating insights – past and present – from around the globe.

Messy Nessy Chic is a sort of amalgamation of interesting discoveries from the internet, and details such finds as the history behind abandoned buildings, secret hideaways in congested cities, and clandestine Parisian parties. My favourite series of posts includes ’13 Things I found on the Internet Today’, which is published weekly.

http://www.messynessychic.com

Apartment Therapy

‘Saving the world one room at a time!’

Apartment Therapy was founded in 2004 by ‘apartment therapist’ Maxwell Ryan. Its mission statement, ‘Helping people make their homes more beautiful, organized and healthy by connecting them to a wealth of resources, ideas and community online’ sums up the site very well, and the readers’ comments play an integral role in further substantiating the articles. As well as Maxwell’s tips, reviews and ideas, the site also features tours of real homes and design projects and has a strong sense of kinship.

Although the site is very New York-centric, contributors hail from Canada, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK, as well as the US, and there are still many relevant topics for a UK reader.

Three Apartment Therapy books have now been published, and there is also space on the site dedicated to food and recipes.

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com