Friday, May 4, 2012

My Favorite Faces

And she walked up – Rachel, I mean, and she’s my daughter – and she put her hands right up on my face, like one on either cheek, and she looked me dead in the eyes.

She said, “You sort of look like Bette Davis.”

And I thought, “Okay.”  I thought, “This is something I can live with. There are a lot worse things a nine year old can tell you than you look like than Bette Davis.”

She said, “Or Steve Buscemi. Yeah.”  She said, “You look like a cross between Bette Davis and Steve Buscemi.”

And you know how sometimes somebody says something to you – just some off-the-cuff remark or random thought – and you just know that you’re going to remember it twenty years from now? Like you’re going to be sitting on your death bed and you’re going to be going over your life and this is going to be one of the two dozen or so things you can recall?

For the rest of my life, every time I look in a mirror, I am going to think Bette Davis.
…Or Steve Buscemi…

…Or I’m going to think Bette Davis and Steve Buscemi…

Thank God she doesn’t know who Peter Lorre is.

So that got me thinking about faces and thinking about beauty, and then I read this study the other day, and it turns out that scientists? They know. They’ve got it all mapped out, this facial beauty thing. They know the proportions. They know the shapes. They know the symmetry behind the whole thing.

They know what we like and they know why we like it.

Florence Colgate,
possessor of the perfect face.
They know Florence Colgate has the perfect female face. This is the face that males see and want to breed with. Which is really what the whole beauty thing is about, anyway. Breeding, I mean. Fitness for reproduction.

But I am generally attracted to women and – with all due respect to Ms. Florence Colgate – if I saw that face coming down the street, and then it went away, and then five minutes later walked back past me, I’m not sure I’d remember having seen it the first time.

I admit that might not be a deal breaker for human males seeking a mating partner. Hell, it might even be a plus.

Maybe I’m just weird. I am probably weird, what with the unnatural sexual proclivities and all that abominating.

But I can remember my thinking for a few years back now and ever since I can remember, I have been drawn to interesting faces. Not healthy faces. Not symmetrical faces. Not perfect faces of the sort that scientists would pick out with their fancy computer programs.

Interesting faces. Faces like puzzles. Faces that make you wonder what is going on inside, behind the eyes. How did they get that way? How the hell’d they grow that thing?

Young Lou... and old. 
Lou Reed looks like he might have some sort of congenital mental disorder and I find his face endlessly fascinating. I could stare at him all day if most his music weren’t so bad.

If an art student painted a picture of a person with a face like Patti Smith, his instructor would immediately fail him. She looks like something terrible happened to her during the night.

Sometimes Tom Waits looks like he has fetal alcohol syndrome.

So does Neil Young.

And Polly Jean Harvey looks like a Muppet and young Roger Waters looked like an alien doing a shitty job at trying to pass himself off as a human. Phillip Glass looks like a fish and Samuel Beckett always looked (to me, at any rate) as though he’d had brain surgery that got botched and left him… you know, left him a little bit “off”, as they say.

But these people have the greatest faces I have ever seen. I take one glance at them and I’ll never forget them. Any of them. I take one glance at them and I want to know more.

Young Patti Smith... and old.
Now, no one would look like any of these people on purpose, villagers with torches being what they are. Nobody walks into their barber let alone their plastic surgeon and says, “Yeah, I want to look like Lou Reed. Can you make my eyes go in two different directions at the same time?”

And who else, who else? Who am I missing?

How about Bette Davis and Steve Buscemi?

Life is too short to spend drooling over a generic department store mannequin.

Maybe I’m just rationalizing my own freakiness…


  1. Superficial parameters of so-called beauty elude my radar as well. Give me someone with a bumped nose or a wonky tooth and call me theirs. I find that the "pretty people" sometimes just plain old suck after being told how attractive they are all their lives, and get used to a certain "pretty person's" treatment, not really understanding that beauty and attraction is deeper than surfaces.
    But I do like a nice ass.
    So sue me.

    1. Dr. Gregory House once said: "Gorgeous women do not go to medical school. Unless they're as damaged as they are beautiful."

      Maybe that's my problem. An interesting person gets me going faster than a socially-acceptable perfect person any old day.

      But as you point out, a nice ass doesn't hurt, either...

  2. I've always thought that Neil Young looks like someone you'd expect to see in a bus station. You know who has a great face? Jeremy Irons.

    1. Maybe I like faces you'd see in a bus station. That would actually explain a lot.

      And Jeremy Irons DOES have a fantastic face. Lucky bastard.

  3. I got over outward appearances long ago. Give me a glimpse at what's ticking inside the skull or blazing in the heart and I might get... well, you know. Neil, Patty, and Lou do have interesting faces, and all have at one time or another made some pretty damned interesting music (Lou Reed's New York record is STILL one of my top 10 all time favorite albums, but I couldn't care less about the rest of his catalog).

    I don't get the Buscemi thing, but maybe Bette Davis. Love those blue eyes no matter what, but then I'm a sucker for blue eyes... every time.

    1. Thanks. I haven't listened to "New York" for years, but I've had a couple songs from it stuck in my head the past couple of months.

      "He was lying banged and battered/ Skewered and bleeding / Talking crippled on the cross" from the last song on the album, and of course that whole beginning magic with "Romeo Had Juliet."

      And his attacks on Jesse Jackson and the Pope and Rudy Giuliani! I need to go back and listen to that.

  4. hahaha, your daughter sure is a genius, just like you. Good that you have a face that could be used by Steve Buscemi and Bette Davis to take pride about. You maynt be, but they could say, "come on! I look like that hot lesbian"

    May people might have compared me to not so flattering faces in the world, I chose to forgot all those "compliments" and I remember only Paula Patton, Mary Joe Fernandez :)

    Life is too short to spend drooling over a generic department store mannequin.
    => Usually I ask people to carve it in gold, you could do this in mercury yet retain the beauty of silver and value more than gold.

    1. A cross between Paula Patton and Mary Joe Fernandez?

      Okay. I can picture that.

      But yeah... I have a family that likes me even with my enormous idiosyncrasies. Even the kids, which is saying something. Could be a sign of the apocalypse. I think it's in Revelation: "And lo, I saw freaks accepted as normal, and I knew the end was nigh."

  5. I think you are absolutely stunning, and I can see the Bette Davis resemblance. Steve Buscemi...not so much.
    I don't find Florence Colgate attractive. I can understand why others would, but I am with you on finding interesting faces attractive. It's funny that you mentioned PJ Harvey. I think she is one of the most beautiful women in rock and roll.

    1. PJ Harvey is fantastic.

      Nick Cave and her were dating when he recorded "The Boatman's Call" and there are a couple songs in which he's clearly describing her - "heart-faced face" and something about her eyelids and jawline...

      There's no way to hear those songs - even if you didn't know they dated - and NOT picture PJ Harvey.

  6. jervaise brooke hamsterMay 5, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    I want to bugger Florence Colgate (such a shame shes British rubbish though).

  7. jervaise brooke hamsterMay 5, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    Katy, when Bette Davis was 18 in 1926 she was one of the most gorgeous little darlin`s of all-time so, by definition, thats makes you one of the most gorgeous little darlin`s of all-time as well.

  8. jervaise brooke hamsterMay 5, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    Katy, Patti Smith celebrated her 34th birthday on the same day that Eliza Dushku was born.

  9. jervaise brooke hamsterMay 5, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    Patti Smith wasn`t a bad looking bird when she was youuger, like a slightly less attractive version of Jane Birkin.

    1. It's funny you mention Jane Birkin, because I almost included Charlotte Gainsbourg on my list here. Iv'e always thought she looked a lot like Patti Smith and she's Jane Birkin's daughter with Serge Gainsbourg.

  10. jervaise brooke hamsterMay 5, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    Katy, contrary to popular belief i`ve always regarded Charlotte Gainsberg as quite a sexy little bird, well she was in 1989 when she was 18, although no-where near as gorgeous as her mother was when she was 18 obviously.

    1. Her dad had one of those interesting faces I was talking about here, too.

  11. Yow, the question of beauty comes up and all I can think about is how much of a freakin' alien Steven Tyler looks like nowadays, yet how incredibly hot Liv Tyler looked in the nineties.

    Does she still look like that? Hopefully.

    Seriously, the search for beauty and all this rot, and while I know ugly cuts to the bone, shouldn't true beauty be a combination of things, not just "oh, s/he's got a nice face."

    I've seen too many faces get punched in and while I'm glad I don't have a boxer's nose or cauliflower ear, I simply don't have time to pamper my freakin' visage just to turn on random strangers.

    Besides, I'm too intimidating to turn anyone on with my looks.

    Yet I have to admit to being vain, and expect everyone to be a little vain towards their looks and hygiene, but as far as I can tell hygiene does not equal beauty either.

    Though it should.

    Bah, my egocentrism got in my way of responding properly, but I reckon it's a clear enough message I reckon.

    Beauty means nothing if your face is gonna get punched in. Besides, physical beauty of the body (both aesthetically and functionally) should be greater than the face. Beauty, in and of itself, SHOULD be a consideration of the whole instead of individual reasons.

    1. I can't tell whether Steven Tyler is just aging really strangely or getting massive amounts of surgery to try and appear as odd as he did when he was younger. I can't make any sense out of his appearance.

      But I can understand the obsession with faces: We learn to read faces for the purposes of survival when we're very young, evolution has probably made us obsess over faces in reading our environment - which is the reason we see faces in clouds and spackle and places there are no real faces.

      I'm as willing as the next guy to make fun of ugly people. The problem with that is that the people who I'm likely to be standing around doing the laughing with are probably horribly band and bring people.

      I guess what I'm saying is that there aren't many people who are interesting AND beautiful like me. such a burden!

  12. If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?
    Abraham Lincoln

    1. Haha... I once read about some of Lincoln's courtroom tactics (stuff like running a wire down the center of his cigarette so that the ash would get 3 inches long, thereby distracting juries from opposing counsel's arguments).

      Someday, I'm going to read more about him.

      But yeah... Lincoln had one of those faces.

    2. Your face is exotic, clearly more Better than Steve. I have always been a big brain guy, so I find your wit and intelligence exceptionally attractive.

    3. I used to blog elsewhere, and one of my regular commenters once had a theory that my blogs were only read to the extent they involved sex or featured pictures of me.

      That used to worry me a little.

      I'm not worried anymore.

    4. I am good with both topics. Keep them coming and worry not

    5. Today, I both finished with my class for the semester AND finished a big project at work I've been hip-deep in for a few weeks. (I'll let you just speculate as to what sort of project a Quik-e-Mart attendant might be hip-deep in for weeks. Restocking the cooler, maybe...)

      Regardless, this means that I will now have MORE time to devote to blogging.

      Get ready.

    6. I never question Quick-e-Mart projects. Scheduling and logistics are a bitch in retail.

    7. If lawyers and oil executives can't get their morning caffeine and lotto tickets in exactly the right amounts and at exactly the right time, there is hell to pay.

  13. Definitely more Bette Davis than Steve Buscemi. It's more likely someone would write a song about your eyes than expect you to stuff someone in a wood chipper. I lost my shit when you said "Tom Waits looks like he has fetal alcohol syndrome." His voice sounds like it too.
    It's hard to come to terms with our own looks. Part of the human condition is to endlessly obsess over every flaw of our own. All those weird (and definitely ugly, hence the obsession) scientists did is give Ms. Colgate a severe complex. The first sign of crows feet she's likely to sit in the garage with the door closed and the car running.
    Ron Pearlman has my favorite face. I'd pay to watch him eat a bucket of chicken. It would be fascinating seeing that enormous jaw go to work.

    1. I almost mentioned Pearlman. Him and the guy from "The Professional."

  14. That Colgate gal looks like a young lady I dated once. Of course, being twenty-one, I was immediately in love; I could see us together forever. That's what happens when you're twenty-one; you see shit like that when the reality is that she's gonna get falling-down drunk and puke a half-gallon of used champagne and oysters all over the side of my convertible.

    (Fuck; I loved that car. I really did. I could see us growing old together. That's part of being twenty-one, also; you love your car. But I digress....)

    In truth, and with the passing years, I realize that she was a rather vacuous-looking, baby-faced blonde who giggled too much; I can still hear her gargling, "Stop the car! Stop the carrr-(gargle/gargle/hurl)!"

    Yeah. Being twenty-one is like that.

    My point?

    As we grow older, if we're lucky, we also grow up. That means, among other things, that we appreciate character - and character shows up in a person's face.

    (Katy - here's sincerely hoping that you do grow old, with a shotgun. It fits. Here's also hoping your face continues to develop character. You're so goddamned much more interesting than that Colgate twit...)


    1. I think maybe when I was in school... maybe I was basing my assessments of what people looked like more on whether OTHERS would think they were attractive.

      The older I get, the less I care about what others think, which is really the definition of finding yourself, I guess. The irony is that others respect you more when you don't give a shit what they think. I wish I could teach that to my kids...

  15. I never had a bird when i was 21, only my right hand, so nothing has changed for me obviously.

  16. I always wonder about these scientific studies too. Florence Colgate just does not do it for me. At all. Like you, I wouldn't notice her walk past me either. About 5 years ago that same study said Halle Berry. And sure, she's not ugly, but she doesn't do it for me either. Maybe I'm broken. Quick, post another picture of Steve Buscemi. Let's see if I get an erection.

  17. "The irony is that others respect you more when you don't give a shit what they think."

    I met a gal some years back who was like that. She said 'fuck' a lot, and was a writer. Grants and suchlike to pay the bills; edgy fiction for the hell of it. She was actually a part-time editor for a couple of magazines. That's how we met; I was writing for one of 'em at the time.

    Our first conversation was based around what I'd written, and how she'd change it. She had something she'd written in her 'bag', and I asked to read it.

    Me: "This is good."

    She: "Thanks - but I really don't care what other people think."

    Things progressed - and eventually we wound up back in my bedroom. We did a lot of that over the next six months.

    Not giving a shit about what other people think isn't just a good idea - there are side benefits, I tell ya - especially with people who actually appreciate that kind of confidence....

    1. I always think of Jack Nicholson as the Joker in Tim Burton's Batman movie, when he explains to Kim Basinger that his appearance has granted him a higher degree of freedom - he is beyond caring about people's reactions to him.

  18. Katy. I think I might be getting started on saying something pretty trite and, therefore, stupid. But so few "pretty" people can get over the natural beauty they got for free that they fail to work on the who of themselves.

    Not that I wouldn't do Paris Hilton if she came with her own mink gag.

    The human side of thoughtful people is attracted to what connections there are between interesting external features and personality. I attended a speech by Bella Abzug as a kid and had vivid sex dreams of her for months.

    BTW- Fuck North Carolina.

    1. I have to say that I like the name "Bella Abzug".

      I'm not worried about North Carolina. The good guys have won that war. This is already the Jim Crow aftermath of the Emancipation Proclamation.

  19. I thought I was the only person who like staring @ random aka interesting ppl and hoping to know their histories. The no. of human beings and their issues just stuns me like a stun gun.
    And yeah unique > pretty :D

    1. Making up back stories for strangers is the only way I manage to ever handle crowds at airports and grocery stores.

      Today, I had to sit through a graduation ceremony. At the end of it, I was almost ready to tell the guy two rows up the interesting life I had made up for him in my head. I was afraid that he'd think I was hitting on him.

  20. Florence Colgate's secret is symmetricity. Look at her - the two halves of her countenance are virtually mirror images. That's just the pull of balanced genes. Give me less "pretty" and more interesting faces any day, like yours for example.

    1. I watched this segment that John Stossel did a while back on FoxNews, and he said that symmetry was almost the ONLY thing that people look for in faces when judging looks.

      That seems wrong to me.

      I mean, it's like looking at a pure white piece of paper, where there's really nothing for the brain to kind of grab onto. I can remember a scar or a stray eyebrow...

  21. Wow, that was a pretty good catch for a kid!! The minute I read it (well, OK, a minute or 2 after), I said to myself "Yeah, it's the eyes." Of course, you're a lot prettier than either Bette Davis and definitely than Steve Buscemi, but I will admit that there is a resemblance to the eyes.

    1. Thank you, Christy.

      I don't know what television she is watching that she is familiar with Bette Davis...

      Although, now that I think about it, maybe it's the television she's watching with Steve Buscemi that ought to have me more concerned. "Reservoir Dogs" is okay for a nine-year old, right?

    2. Ummm.... we'll hope it was Bette Davis. Better, Yes? Although Buscemi is a strange and interesting character, I like Bette much better. Kids amaze me, though. My granddaughter is fascinated by The Beatles, and would probably even sell ME for a chance to see Sir Paul in person.

    3. History is relative, I guess.

      My daughter says things like "My history teacher was talking about when George W. Bush was President..."

      HISTORY teacher!

      We all become historical artifacts pretty darn quickly...

  22. Gee, thanks. Now I'll have "Betty Davis Eyes" (Kim Carnes) on the brain for awhile.

    I am one of those odd men (it occurs to me the sentence could stop there and be meaningful to some) who is attracted to the mind and personality first. This has actually proven problematic in my life, as some of the attractive women I dated (and the one I married) have looked back at some of the less attractive women I dated and wondered aloud, "Do you rank my attractiveness the same as hers?"

    1. I have to think of that song to even remember Bette Davis' name. Which in turn reminds me of the duet she did with Kenny Rogers, "Don't Fall in Love with a Dreamer."

      Which, finally, makes me think of ghost Kermit the Frog dancing on a train while Kenny Rogers sings "The Gambler."

      It's always uncomfortable, I think for someone you're with to meet someone else you've dated. "You should have seen her ten years ago" or "I was having a rough year" doesn't seem to cut it.

      I grow into people. I like them more and more the longer I'm with them. Given enough time, I could probably grow to love a psychopathic genocidal maniac. Love makes people attractive.

    2. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one whose mind wanders... You mentioning Kenny Rogers made me think of his duet with Dolly Parton, "Islands in the Stream." Which made me think of a joke that was funny to me as a kid, when that song was released: What do you call Dolly Parton lying in a river? Islands in the stream.

      Like you, I grow into people. The more time I spend with them, the more I like them. The more I like them, the more attractive they are to me.

      The opposite is also true. I know some women who are physically flawless (almost), but they turn me off in some other way. That actually makes them less physically attractive to me.

      That's an interesting dilemma for a man, by the way. I can't begin to tell you the mental turmoil associated with trying to rationalize a relationship with a "hot" woman who is a nutcase.

      I once heard that men learn to love the women they are attracted to, while women learn to be attracted to the men they love. That has seemed generally true in my own experience.

      Inner and outer beauty are interesting attributes. I'm fascinated by how our obviously subjective assessment of beauty can profoundly impact our emotions.

    3. Dr. Gregory House once said, "Beautiful women don't go to medical school unless they're broken.

      I am paraphrasing.

      Trivia of the Day: "Islands in the Stream" was essentially a BeeGees song. Barry Gibb saw that he could no longer sell records as the BeeGees after disco became a naughty word, so he did records for other people like Kenny Rogers and Diana Ross. Kenny's entire "Eyes That See in the Dark" album (1983) was Barry Gibb material.

    4. That is truly fascinating information, Katy. I just LOVE tidbits like that!!!

    5. I'm chock full of useless information.


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