No Holds Barred: Nodding Out!

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Henry Fuseli, The Nightmare, 1781.

Last month I was diagnosed with “severe sleep deficit.” After years of sleeping only four hours a night, I found myself suffering during the day with buzz brain, wobbly legs, extreme memory loss and constant irritation over minor issues. And most of all, total disgust with the world around me.

So much for my all-night iPad/Instagram scrolling; my eyelids fell to half-mast watching bowel remedies, sleep hygiene tips and various anti-aging creams and IV infusions to get your brain back to age 35. I can’t remember how I felt at 35, let alone how I felt an hour ago. And let’s get real, nowadays you have to be rich to invest in all those high-flying sale pitches. “Wellness” and “anti-aging” are expensive. Why not let nature take its course and lose your body and your mind naturally. Time wins out in the end anyway.

Exhaustion has become the current state of being. 30 years ago, the medical trend was hypoglycemia. Now it’s “stay hydrated” and “sleep enhancement.”

Remember when this was a fad?!

Sleep deficit has its own money grab issues. As for my sleep remedies? I can’t stand melatonin gummies or tart cherry drops. Everything makes me feel groggier and loopier upon awakening. In the last two years I bought and returned 4 mattresses. I am not ready for a sleep clinic. I want to master my own clock.

Arianna Huffington wrote about all this in 2017 with her “Sleep Revolution: Transforming your Life a Night at a Time.” She heralded the “global sleep crisis.” I have tried following her tips — from darkening my bedroom, meditative yoga Nidra tapes, turning off all devices an hour before bedtime, to taping all my glow-in-the-dark light switches. So far, I prefer my Lunesta to gummies and I still need a real book (not the tablet) to read in the middle of the night.

Sleep is a mystery for many, and I feel it’s a lifelong struggle. I am a sleepy work in progress. Some mornings I suffer from semi-dementia trying to find my TV remote. Other days my heart palpitations go into full blast from the sound of my landscaper’s leaf blower. And that’s after I’ve slept 9 hours!!

Who honestly sleeps 7 to 11 hours (the required time for sound rest)? Actually, my dog does. Apparently naps count. I am trying that, and have attempted a 1:00 to 2:00 PM snooze, but I still get up feeling more shell-shocked than calm.

George Santos donning red lipstick and a wig for his drag queen Kitara Ravache cameo attire.

Exhaustion has maybe reached a near epidemic, because who really wants to look at what’s going on in the world? No wonder Biden nods out in conferences and why shouldn’t Trump take a snooze during his trial. It’s a “playback” he’s already lived through, and a lot of us don’t even care.

We are kind of sick of the daily freak show. Last week we had to endure a pitched announcement of George Santos (expelled New York house representative) donning red lipstick and a wig for his “out-of-the-closet after 18 years” drag queen Kitara Ravache cameo attire. Forget the campus protests, this optic is wearying enough.

I wouldn’t blame my Big Exhaustion on Covid’s “too much information” era. I’d say we are all tapped out in all the recent “tyranny of urgency.” Now everything is “breaking news” and none of it really is. So why shouldn’t we all just fall asleep at the wheel?

Last week Peggy Noonan wrote a terrific column in the Wall Street Journal entitled “The Uglification of Everything.” She cites the increased amount of horror films; The remaking of a beautiful film like The Talented Mr. Ripley, with laid back glamour directed by Anthony Minghella who displayed the world as beautiful shiny things, to the latest Netflix remake Ripley — all “grimy, gloomy and grim.”

A drab scene from Netflix’s Ripley.

Even the recent rendition of “Cabaret” on Broadway appears to have gone way past dark and witty, into ugly bizarre and alienating; Dancers masturbating on a copy of Mein Kampf and Eddie Redmayne as the Emcee reduced to a clown in a skirt with a toilet plunger. Where’s exotic Bob Fosse when you need him?

I love that Noonan even listed our favorite “guilty pleasure” — The Daily Mail website — which used to be fun filled with hilarious “hijinks of the rich and famous,” fast cars, lowlife celebrities and drug busts, to stories on local child abuse, mothers drowning babies and fathers murdering themselves and the entire neighborhood.

Eddie Redmayne playing a sinister Emcee in a revival of “Cabaret.” 📸Marc Brenner

No wonder we want to fall asleep but can’t.

Noonan goes on to say; “uglification is rising and spreading as an artistic attitude, and it can’t be good for us. Because it speaks of self-hatred, and a society that hates itself, and hates life, won’t last.” That’s a wake-up pill worth noting!

Yet it’s happening everywhere — even in architecture. Last week it was announced that LVMH is buying up real estate to control its brands, and to “create a consumer center of gravity.” What is that? It’s been rumored that the Champs-Élysées will soon look like Vegas with towering glass-built malls. and so will Fifth Avenue, Rodeo Drive, and Miami’s Design District. All to become Disneylands or sky-high luxe labels. Hopefully people will have the money to shop for all of this. But face it … when the world goes ugly, the ugly still go shopping.

You too can experience the romance of Paris with the excitement of Las Vegas!

I still can’t get over how “cancelled” couture designer John Galliano (ostracized for his crazy behavior and anti-Semitic outbursts) has made a comeback this spring in Paris with his latest Maison Margiela Artisanal collection. It was shown under a bridge on the Seine, in a rancid setting, and the clothes consisted of ultra-corseted and gloomy gauzy silhouettes with bizarre, masked faces. The models looked like weirdos who had just been assaulted. “Half dressed and haunting.” Yet fashionistas heralded this ugliness as “THE return to his true creativity.”

Galliano definitely showed up for his close friend and supporter Anna Wintour at her Met Gala this year. After all, “three of the most famous people on the guest list by any metric — Zendaya, Kim Kardashian, and Bad Bunny — all wore custom couture Maison Margiela by John Galliano looks,” according to  New York Magazine‘s The Cut.

Apocalyptic scenes from Maison Margiela Artisanal 2024 Collection by John Galliano.

Zendaya in Maison Margiela by John Galliano at the Met Gala. 📸Madison Voelkel/

Speaking of the Met Gala — this year it felt like it lost a lot of its “Party of the Year” punch. And honestly, I think “The Hat Luncheon” — which annually benefits the Central Park Conservancy and is held around the same time as the Met Gala — is at least a celebration of color and beauty and real fun. This year 1350 attendees came with hats they either made themselves or had high-priced milliners style. There were a few even sporting a tribute to Flaco the popular wild owl who escaped the Central Park Zoo only to die tragically from rodent poisoning.

The hat luncheon is just a joy to watch in all its tulip and Arnold Palmer splendor and it looks and feels real as all the ladies get their own creativity together and support the most important sanctuary in New York City. This year it comes at a time when the park has been struggling with its own problems of broad daylight robberies and hoodlum hit-and-runs.

The Hat Lunch, one could argue, was the “Party of the Year.” 📸Sean Zanni/PMC

Meanwhile, the Met Gala theme is ironically entitled “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.” Apparently, the exhibit is from the museum’s own fashion collection, so old and delicate they can’t display them on mannequins. Instead, the exhibit will use a lot of AI and 3D immersive technologies as well as sound and scent. Maybe all that can sound a bugle alarm to the fashion world, let alone the culture.

One of the many celebrity “hosts” was Bad Bunny (he is everywhere, and I still don’t know who and what he is) along with Shou Chew, the TikTok executive. How relevant. We already have been Rihannaized and Kardashianed out. But this year Anna Wintour decided to crown Jeff Bezos and fiancé Lauren Sánchez as “The American Royalty on this year’s red carpet.”

Bad Bunny at the Met Gala. 📸Madison Voelkel/

Lauren Sánchez toned way down at the Met Gala. 📸Carl Timpone/

Now, I can officially NOD OUT!

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