Happy Birthday Ms. Harry!

The coolest woman in rock and roll today celebrates her 70th birthday. Happy Birthday Debbie Harry! She’s a music icon, an actress, a stunning beauty, a champion of LGBT causes, a philanthropist, a long-time resident of NYC, and according to a mate of mine who worked with her, one of the nicest and funniest women you could ever meet.

I’ve loved Debbie Harry since I was a teenager and she remains a huge inspiration for me. Debbie has always chosen to live life in her own way and that includes how she ages. Although she’s in her seventh decade, she’s still performing, still doing charity work and still dresses like a rock star. Just check her out at Glastonbury last year and imagine being that cool at sixtyeffingnine years of age! Whatta woman!

White on blonde

I’ve basically had the same hairstyle since I was three years old: long, straight and golden blonde. I’m not very adventurous with my hair – leaving it down or putting it into a ponytail is my entire repertoire – and I wish I was a bit more experimental with haircuts but I’m too afraid! For years I have toyed with the idea of going peroxide blonde, but my hair grows really quickly so the maintenance would be expensive, plus the bleach would ruin the condition so it would have to be a lot shorter. I’ve never been brave enough to take the plunge even though I love pale hair with pale skin (and my ghostly white complexion would certainly qualify as pale!)

Below are some of my white blonde hair inspirations: the Original Blonde, Marilyn Monroe; the Rock and Roll Blonde, Debbie Harry; the Edgy Blonde, Gwen Stefani (What I want to know is, how does she have long bleached hair that looks OK? A hairdresser on call 24/7? Hairpieces?); and lastly, the Intellectual Blonde, Tilda Swinton (her white hair and pale skin are my ideal.)

What about you? Any hair dreams or disasters? Any advice for a wannabe peroxide gal? Let me know in the comments!

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe
Debbie Harry
Debbie Harry
Gwen Stefani
Tilda Swinton for Chanel
Tilda Swinton for Chanel

People I would like to have dinner with – Part Two

Last Friday I cooked dinner for two friends of mine and it was a success. (I say it was a success because I believe both people are still alive!) In actual fact it was nerve wracking as both of these people are amazing cooks and I have been their dinner guest on more occasions than I can count. It was high time the favour was repaid and so I took their lives in my hands and made chilli for us all. I think our enjoyment of the night was much enhanced by the extraordinary quantities of wine we managed to consume; a dinner party rule I always adhere to!

I bought my first recipe book the other day and hope that some day in the future I will be a much better cook. However I think for my Fantasy Dinner Party series, I would probably hire a caterer. It takes the pressure off and that would be so helpful when dealing with divas! Part One of this series focussed on literary characters I’d like to have dinner with and Part Two is about musicians.

1. Edith Piaf

I have blogged before about my love for Edith Piaf – what a heroine! Piaf is the definition of the little woman with a big voice but she had an even bigger heart. She believed in love more than anything in the world, was an idealist and a romantic and a hedonist to boot. She had a huge appetite for love, for music, for booze and for life. Between her pidgin English and my not so fluent French we’d muddle along fine and I bet have more than a few laughs in the process.

2. Lester Young

Lester Young, or Prez as he was known in the jazz world, was a soft-spoken, kind, intelligent, wisp of a man and his style of playing with Count Basie’s orchestra influenced generations of saxophone players. Prez was Billie Holiday’s best friend and like Holiday and many of his peers, Prez became addicted to alcohol and drugs to his detriment. Before his addictions took hold he made some incredibly beautiful recordings and was renowned for his relaxed and easy style. And how could you not invite a man who is said to have popularised the word “cool” as slang!

3. Dave Grohl

Frequently described as the nicest man in rock, Dave Grohl is one of my drumming heroes. I have been to many Foo Fighters‘ gigs and Dave’s onstage banter is always funny and frequently sarcastic (such as the time the Foos were playing in the Point and Dave started playing the first few bars of “Jeremy“, then said “no man I’m just joking” and cracked up!). In interviews he comes across as an intelligent, warm and very witty guy and he reminds me of my mates, someone I could easily hang out with.

4. Keith Richards.

I think, if we’re talking about a music related dinner party, Keef would be on everybody’s list. He’d drink the house dry and regale us all with shocking tales of rock and roll life. He’d crack up at other people’s stories and then trump them with one of his own. He’d be generous and kind and we’d all marvel at his infinite capacity and Kevlar-coated liver. I’d definitely want to try on his awesome skull ring. OK so he might get boisterous and maybe he’d still be camped out on the sofa two days later, but it would so be worth it!

5. Debbie Harry

I have the biggest girl-crush on Debbie Harry. She’s smart, independent, stylish and I have it on good authority that she’s lovely in person too. I love the fact that Blondie was signed when Debbie was in her early thirties; she had to work hard, it didn’t happen overnight and I respect her for that. I love that she’s not defined by a relationship, that she’s still friends with her ex, that she never had children, and that she lives in New York and is still a face on the downtown scene.

Shepard Fairey – Debbie Harry Print

(Debbie Harry by Shepard Fairey)

I have always been a huge fan of Debbie Harry.  To me she’s one of the most iconic women in rock; not only is she stylish, funny and intelligent, she’s also always remained true to her NYC underground roots and has lived life by her own rules, never having married or had children.  A good friend of mine also worked with Debbie when she was gigging in Dublin and I am reliably informed that she is great fun and a very warm woman.

Shepard Fairey, the artist and illustrator, is having a solo show entitled “May Day” in New York in Deitch Projects.  The show is to to run from May 1st to May 29th and it features new work from Fairey including the above screen print which is based on a painting in the show. There will be a very limited release of  each of the Iggy Pop and Debbie Harry prints signed by them at the show. How amazing! A future release of the prints will be available on OBEY so keep your eyes peeled, if like me you’re a Debbie fan and a Fairey fan!

Downtown Calling

The Irish Film Institute are currently screening a documentary series called Stranger Than Fiction.  Tomorrow evening at 18.45 they’re showing Downtown Calling.  This is the international premiere of this documentary which is directed by Shan Nicholson and narrated by Debbie Harry.  It profiles New York City in the 1970s; the city was rife with crime and was in a recession and yet the music and arts scene were thriving.  The documentary contains interviews with Mos Def, Chris Stein, TV on the Radio and Fab 5 Freddy amongst others.

This looks like a great way to while away an hour and twenty minutes so get yourselves down to the IFI and check it out.