Kim Kelly is my friend. (I wish)

17 Dec

(Or, I’m OBSESSED with Busy Philipps .)

In looks, demeanor and circumstance, I am worlds away from Kim Kelly, the tomboyish bottle-blonde played by Busy Philipps on  Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000). Still, I marvel at her character. What’s most impressive is the attention to detail writer Paul Feig possessed when he brought Kim Kelly to life.

Or maybe it’s her jacket. I love how the characters on Freaks and Geeks are shown in the same outerwear week to week. They don’t have  a closet full of one outfit like Rocko, but Lindsay wears an over-sized army jacket in almost every episode, just as Kim wears that blue ski jacket, and it feels true to life.

Kim Kelly reminds me of a girl I knew growing up. She, too wore a ski jacket and bleached her hair irregularly so the roots would grow to thick blocks of dark brown on top. Her mother smoked in the house and she grew out her training bra before I had to start wearing one. Pink was her favorite artist and she referred to me as her “smart friend” to boys on the telephone, who would only ask to speak to me so that they could challenge my intelligence by asking the square roots of random high numbers. Needless to say, I didn’t pass these tests.

I was never as brainy as Lindsey Weir, but I did share her purported identity conundrum: how can you fit in with the burnouts when you come from a healthy, loving home?

Perhaps by association. Maybe that’s why I idolize Busy Phillips and the characters she plays.

Up until some unofficial polling (aka browsing Tumblr), I thought I was the only person that remembered, The Smokers (2000). Not the case! Although this movie has only garnered a mere 39% on Rotten Tomatoes and the plot is pretty bleak, it has the patience of Sofia Coppola movie and drama likened to that of  American Beauty.  The movie also features a quick montage in which Busy Philipps, Dominique Swain and Keri Lynn Pratt gallivant through town wearing (respectively) a face shield, a bunny mask and mouse ears while eating garish lollipops; sorta reminds me of “Ghost World” with more blissful naivete. Philipps plays a badass, (albeit a little misguided), who shoots guns and smokes a lot of pot and cigarettes.


Oh yeah, Thora Birch is in this movie, too. Source:

Oh yeah, Thora Birch is in this movie, too. Source:

Philipps was more recently in Cougar Town, where she played Laurie, the fun-loving, promiscuous assistant at Courtney Cox’s real estate agency. Laurie has good intentions, but still walks the walk of shame most mornings of her adult life. You can sort of think of her as Kim Kelly all grown up, although I think Kim would’ve grown up to be a lot smarter and more self-assured than Laurie.

I wouldn’t admit that I’ve even heard of Cougar Town outside of this post, but lame as it sounds, it had some redeeming qualities. For one, the lifestyle of the cast is enviable. Everyone is filthy rich and they find time to drink inordinate quantities of wine in each episode. The stakes are all-around pretty low, but if you watch it when you’re bed-ridden or in place of being productive, it manages to cut the bitterness of life. Busy Philipps laughs a lot during the show, and I can’t tell if it’s written into the script or if she’s “breaking.” Her laugh is deep, a little horse and hands-down the most genuine thing I’ve heard on television ever. If nothing else, watch the show for that.




coney island, baby

10 Dec

In her memoir, ‘Just Kids,’ Patti Smith writes, “I always loved the ride to Coney Island. Just the idea that you could go to the ocean via subway was so magical.”

"It was our kind of place: the fading arcades, the peeling signs of bygone days..."-Patti Smith

“It was our kind of place: the fading arcades, the peeling signs of bygone days…”-Patti Smith

Absolutely. I’ve had a strong affinity for Coney Island for a while, but up until my most recent visit to New York I had never been.

Coney Island is the 20th stop on the Q train– at least 15 stops from where I was staying in Lefferts Garden. Still, I was closer at that point than I had ever been, and the prospect of going to a closed, decaying carnival in early December seemed romantic at the very least.

Inside the train station was a lifeguard stand; the stained glass walls had a modest painting of a Ferris wheel. Hanging from the awning were crooked letters boasting “CONEY ISLAND” to the street, to the left of which heaps of trash and cracked open Solo cups could be found. Outside, people waited for nothing at all.

"The pier was swept away in a big storm in the eighties but Nathan's, which was Robert [Mapplethorpe]'s favorite place, remained. -Patti Smith

“The pier was swept away in a big storm in the eighties but Nathan’s, which was Robert [Mapplethorpe]’s favorite place, remained. -Patti Smith

The Cyclone roller coaster was stagnant and blocks of wood jutted out of place like a fallen Jenga tower, (what I assume was a by-product of Hurricane Sandy) but it was easy to imagine what the carnival would look like were it lit up. On this super pale winter day, Coney Island was the place of my dreams.

I don’t know that you can call it a cult following, but Coney Island does have an intriguing fan base.

Of course, native New Yorker and my hero Lou Reed named his 6th solo album, “Coney Island Baby,” (1975).

Obviously, Coney Island inspired the painfully good doo-wop song, “Coney Island Baby” by the Excellents. (1962)

Of those inspired, though, my personal favorite is the creators of Coney Island, a husband-and-wife musical duo whose specialty is performing songs of the 50s, 60s and 70s for baby boomer parties, pool parties and community events for the 55+ generation.

Also called to mind is the 30 Rock episode in which Kenneth sees the ocean for the first time at Coney Island, checking this off his bucket list in anticipation of the apocalypse.

See the rest of the pics from my trip here: