Miranda July is a total human being (and so are you!)

Today, a confessional:

I have a major fantasy friendship going on with Miranda July. If you don’t know of or about her, you really should remedy that: http://mirandajuly.com/.

If you are going to be obstinate and not follow the link before reading on, the lowdown: Miranda July is a super-talented artist of many stripes and I dig all her work completely.

Miranda July in “The Swan Tool,” 2001; photo by David Nakamoto

In fact, I find myself creepily daydreaming about us hanging out and doing artsy things together. But it’s not like THAT. It’s like this.

Among the salient reasons I want to be friends with Miranda July:

• She has a cool blog (see link above) that tons of people read and she’s published work in hip magazines and journalism like VICE, The New Yorker and Paris Review.

• She is a super creative, intra-genre artist and she tries her hand at all sorts of mediums including film, music, books and performance art.

• In an era where most artists and celebrities prefer to create in a vacuum, July preaches artistic inclusivity, and she often invites the audience to participate directly in her oeuvres. (SEE: http://www.learningtoloveyoumore.com/index.php).

• She travels a lot.

• Her movies are eminently watchable.

• She digs Mexican food.

• She makes the creative life work for her, financially. Supposedly, she quit her day job at a mere 23. At 23, I personally hadn’t even started working at the job that would come before the job that would come before the job I would eventually leave to pursue writing full time, which only just happened last month when I was already (horrors!) in my 30s, which, as I’ve said before, is practically the same thing as being dead.

Miranda’s hair is cooler than yours; photo by RJ Shaughnessy

In the alternate universe where our friendship is happily blossoming, Miranda and I do all kinds of things together. We make jewelry. We write blog entries. We debate local politics. (She used to live in Portland, my hometown, and I’ve a notion we’d have much to discuss.) Also, she gives me a badly needed makeover and maybe we put our hair up in curlers and watch art films together. Unless her hair is naturally that curly? If so, maybe she teaches me to French braid instead. Doesn’t matter. Anyways. And we bake. Like, weird cakes with strange prizes hidden inside them, or loaves of brown bread that we wrap in Christmas paper and leave on the doorsteps of strangers.

It would be sooooo cool.

Google Miranda and you’ll quickly discover that she is often conflated with Zooey Deschanel. Let’s stop right there a second. Improbably enormous Kewpie-blue eyes and vaguely scenesterish aesthetic notwithstanding, I beg heartily to differ. I realize it has become cool these days to hate Zooey, but for precious once I’ll buck tangent and simply say, pragmatically as can be done, that I prefer Miss M. (OK, semi-pragmatically. Look at this, and tell me you’re not a little bit grossed out: http://hellogiggles.com/.)

Miranda July takes on big ideas, but she doesn’t turn her nose up at small ideas, either, and much of the work she’s done so far seems intent on mining the strange, ugly, terrible, wonderful, beautiful corners of life where the twain intersect. (Her newly released non-fiction work, “It Chooses You,” is a series of interviews with people selling strange items in the PennySaver. And now she’s invited the people to come to New York and sell their items at her consignment store as a sort of art happening. Totally brilliant, right?)

Culturally, spiritually, these are times of unprecedented drought. Everything is bionic and so multi-extensional it’s hard even to trace it back to a human hand, or head, or other part. Radio makes my ears bleed. Television makes my eyes weep. Movies don’t tell my brain anything it hadn’t already thought of before. At least not often enough for it to be remotely worth the price of a ticket.

In times such as these, work such as Miranda July’s feels, to me, like an essential nod to that strange and inscrutable thing inside each of us that remains inarguably human. Sloppy and fumbling and beautiful and awkward and big-eyed and breathless and entirely, crankily human, come what may.

I just … DIG IT!

And hey, Miranda! Over here! My 31st birthday is Aug. 20, and I’m having a popcorn party. You really should come over.

PS: On a totally unrelated note, it is so totally weird how much this random chick I found a photo of on the internet looks like Zooey Deschanel. How do they manage to look so alike, and yet so unalike? I think the juxtapositioning of these two photos goes a long way in explaining the Miranda-Zooey connection, too. Big blue eyes sure do mesmerize!


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