The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Dare Wright Day *

* (restored)


‘Have you heard of the The Lonely Doll? For my birthday one year, my friend Drew presented me with a reissued copy of A Gift From the Lonely Doll and these solemn words: “You need this book.” It was one in a series of ten “lonely Doll” books by the late photographer/author/model Dare Wright, the first of which was originally published in 1957 with a trademark pink-and-white gingham cover. The story was told via beautiful black-and-white photographs of a curious doll named Edith and her teddy bear friends, Mr. Bear and Little Bear.

‘Like so many children’s books, A Gift From the Lonely Doll was an aching mix of absurd and profound. But there was also something unsettling about its images of dolls come to life. Why was this little doll knitting a scarf for a stuffed bear? Why did she have to go shopping for the yarn in the city all by herself? Why was her skirt so short, and why was she so frequently photographed from behind? My first flip through the book stirred a sense of strange familiarity—I intuitively understood this peculiar universe, yet it creeped me out and left me wanting to close the book and back away, kind of how I felt as a kid after watching too many Twilight Zone episodes on a Sunday afternoon. When Drew pointed out the author’s photograph on the book jacket, I got quiet. Dare Wright looked exactly like little Edith.

‘Edith was named after Dare’s mother, who gave her daughter the felt Lenci doll when Dare was just a child. Years later, Dare unearthed the doll from a trunk, and like Edie Sedgwick to Andy Warhol, little Edith became Dare’s blank slate. She created a blonde wig for her, added small gold hoop earrings similar to her own, and dressed her up in a pink-and-white gingham outfit that she’d made by hand. Soon Edith came to bear an uncanny resemblance to the photographer herself. The side-eye of the Lenci allowed her expression to go from quizzical and innocent to complete bitchface with a slight change of perspective, and Dare proceeded to depict little Edith in a variety of scenes: opening the door to greet the two bears, brushing her hair while gazing into a mirror, hanging out at the beach, standing at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, dressed up as hippies protesting city pollution, tied up to a tree and gagged—YES.

‘The story behind the stories is a whole other story — a true gothic tale. On the surface, Dare’s life was super glamorous. Her mother, Edith (aka Edie) Stevenson Wright, was a successful portrait painter for whom dignitaries and celebrities like Dwight Eisenhower and Greta Garbo once sat. Dare was intelligent and beautiful, and Edie taught her how to paint, draw, and sew. A high school teacher pushed her into acting and then modeling, but she became interested in the camera, and soon became a fashion photographer for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

‘The portrait of Dare that emerges from Nathan’s biography is of a sad and troubled woman. Growing up, Dare felt the absence of her father and her brother, whom she’d last seen when she was three and her parents divorced. Her mother retained custody of Dare, but she worked a lot, and Dare was left home alone with instructions to “keep the door locked” for hours on end. Edie dissuaded Dare from making friends, and the two often played dress-up, photographing each other in gowns and other outfits, and Edie encouraged Dare to pose nude during their summer vacations (in other accounts, it is Dare who orchestrated these shoots, while Edith merely clicked the shutter).

‘Dare eventually reconnected with her brother, Blaine, and was briefly engaged to one of his friends, but the bio suggests her affections were directed toward her sibling, and that their relationship was intense and “highly charged.” Dare remained close to her mother—they often slept together when they stayed at Dare’s apartment in New York, or on their many vacations. After Edie died in 1975, Dare became a recluse and an alcoholic. According to Nathan, she may have remained a virgin all her life. She was reportedly raped by a stranger when she was about 80; after that she moved into a public hospital in Queens, New York, where she lived out the last six years of her life. She died in 2001 at the age of 86.’ — Rookie Magazine




Dare Wright NYC exhibition (walk-through)

Dare Wright~The Lonely Doll Author & Those She Loved


Kodagain ‘Dare Wright’

Dare Wright in Central Park






‘Actress Famke Janssen says that an intruder broke into her home in New York City and left a creepy children’s book called, The Lonely Doll next to her bed. Despite the fact that Janssen says she has never seen the book in her life, detectives believe that it is actually Janssen’s book and that there was no intrusion involved. A source said, “They [detectives] believe that the book belongs to Janssen. The book has some connection to her home.”

‘Janssen originally told the police that she discovered the book after coming home from running errands on August 1. She filed a report at the First Precinct station house two days later. “She walked into her bedroom and noticed a children’s book standing on the shelf beside her bed,” a source said. However, after investigating the situation and watching surveillance videos thoroughly , police have found no evidence that anyone broke into her home.

‘“There is nobody suspicious” and “all the people on the video are accounted for,” said the law enforcement. Also, police said they found a “to-do” list hidden between the pages of the book with Janssen’s name on it. Janssen is not expected to be charged for filing a false report because she actually believes that someone broke into her home and left the book.’ — collaged






‘Following the news of actress Famke Janssen’s unsettling Greenwich Village home invasion, in which a copy of the 1957 children’s book The Lonely Doll was placed near her bed, the story can’t help but take on a new eeriness. But Wright’s only living heir and the owner of her estate doesn’t want people to get the wrong idea. “My Google Alert is just going nuts,” Brook Ashley, who considered Wright her “surrogate mother,” told Daily Intelligencer today. “But I want to separate the crime from the book.” As for Janssen’s unwanted houseguest, “Perhaps the person who left it there is saying, ‘I can be your friend, too. Let me into your lonely life the way Edith let the two bears into hers.’ That is creepy! Not the book, but the offering,” said Ashley. “That’s the most logical interpretation, but it is disquieting,” she said. “Why The Lonely Doll? This is like a Castle episode or something.” If she could speak to Janssen, “I would say I hope she reads it at some point to see it’s not terrifying,” said Ashley. “No one left a Stephen King book. I wonder if it was the first edition, which is quite valuable,” she added. “I guess it’s sitting in a police evidence locker right now.”‘ — NY Magazine









p.s. Hey. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Welcome to Monday. How’s yours? Mine is very gray and a little wet, externally I mean. My love giving your love a lifetime’s supply of air freshener as a house warming gift, G. ** David Ehrenstein, RIP Darlene. ** NIT, When I was a child, and very sentimental, I guess, hearing any recording of ‘Little Drummer Boy’ at Xmas would make me burst into tears of joy. Now I am but a crab shell of a human imprisoning that lovely boy. Thank you for the tip about Meg. I somehow hadn’t known that, I guess not being on instagram. I will reorder M in my head accordingly. Rejected-Xmas love, me. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. I’ve always wanted to put a Signer spinning tree in my living room, but I would need to buy a vacuum cleaner first. Do carry on that tradition! Does John ever bring his annual Xmas Live Spectacular show to the UK? I just saw the big Christian Marclay retrospective at the Pompidou. It’s big fun. I think you’d like it. I hope it travels over there. ** Montse, Montse!!!! Hey, my pal! I’m pretty good, all in all. The film stuff is proceeding well for the most part, and I think it’s going to be great, and I’m excited. No, the ‘Jerk’ film people don’t keep me informed, but that’s good news! Wow, congrats on your new pad, well, apart from the problems and growing pains. Where is it, not that I know Barcelona at all? I hope it becomes the comfort source it’s meant to be right away. As a Xmas present from it to you? Thank you so, so much about ‘I Wished’. Yeah, it was a pretty tough to write for me. You’re coming to Paris!!! I sure hope I’ll be here. Let me know your dates when you know them. Zac and I will be back and forth between here and LA until we shoot the film there in mid-march, but very hopefully our timing will be perfecto. It’d be so great to see you! Even huger love to you and the mighty Xet!!!! ** Steve Erickson, ‘If you’ve ever wanted to see a dance ensemble writhe on the floor to “Summer Babe” …’ is the nail in that coffin right there. The worst fears come true. Jesus Christ. No surprise that ‘The Whale’ sucks, but I hope Mr. Likeable Brendan sails through it unscathed. Your poor mom. I hope and trust that, what with it being Monday, she will get her ears in the clear again today. ** Robert, Hi, R. My weekend wasn’t bad. I’m happy to hear your sanity has returned. Your prose reads very sanely if you need confirmation. Oh, my god, no, I have not listened to that, but I really don’t see how I can’t now that you have facilitated my discovery. Here will go nothing later today, thank you (I think). I know upside down Xmas trees exist and are some kind of thing. I think Galeries Lafayette here, which prides itself on displaying a giant, surprise filled Xmas tree every year, hung one upside down a few years ago, if I’m not mistaken, and I believe I saw it and that it didn’t make the giant impression it intended. But, hey, upside down, why not, right? Everyone, Robert suggests that this video is fun to skim through, and I agree. Thanks for the effective Xmas cheer, pal. ** rafe, Howdy, rafe! Your comment did come through the first time, just so you know. I have not tried making AI generated imagery. I have friends who are really into and excited by it. I think they use Midjourney? I’m much better at finding and organising and fucking with pre-existing imagery than I am at generating it or ideas for it. But I might try. It does seem to be what fun is all about. And I’ll use that interface or whatever it’s called that you linked me up with. Thanks a lot. You doing righter than rain, I hope? ** Okay. Someone wrote to me recently and asked me to restore Dare Wright Day, and, being an amenable sort of person, I did. See you tomorrow.




Tim Alkema High powered rocket Christmas tree (2010)
‘Pretty perfect flight. We were worried it was going to fall apart on the launch pad! :D’


John Baldessari Christmas (With Double Boy on Crutches) (1991)
‘According to Baldessari, the colours of the dots symbolise different feelings: red for danger, green for safety, yellow for chaos or insanity and blue for harmony.’


Tom Burr Christmas Collapse (2005)
Wood, latex, paint, metal, hardware, glass, and paper


Oskar Dawicki After Christmas Forever (2005)
‘An artificial Christmas tree – a product manufactured on a large scale – is standing on a newspaper. At the bottom, around the stand, we can see a vast pile of conifer needles, while the tree itself has thinned-out branches that have but a few needles left. The humorous nature of this project (as the falling of needles is a problem common to all natural Christmas trees) has been narrowed down to something seemingly impossible. However, the title (After Christmas Forever) relates the manipulated object not to a one-time joke, but to a diagnosis: a permanently post-Christmas situation that we are all part of.’


Martin Creed It’s You (2016)
‘This might be momentarily mistaken for a love song, until you see the infinite weariness in Creed’s face. It’s not a lover’s melancholy. It is more like the look on Macbeth’s face when he contemplates tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.’


Tom Shankland The Children (2008)
‘A mysterious illness turn children into killers during a Christmas vacation. It’s exactly what you expect from that description and it doesn’t disappoint. The children are effectively creepy, some really nice bloody gory scenes and it doesn’t shy away from violence anyone can die including the kids. You can tell most of the film wasn’t filmed on location, the snow looks really fake and it doesn’t look cold at all which you could argue it’s closer to spring but Christmas is usually pretty cold. That being said blood on snow is always a winner.’


Philippe Parreno Jean-Luc Godard (1993)
‘An installation piece consisting of an artificial Christmas tree hung with fairy lights, teddy bears, and baubles, surrounded by blue canvas chairs on which the viewer is invited to sit and listen to a 45-minute accompanying soundtrack. Delivered via an old-fashioned cassette recorder, this offers a mocked up monologue by the French-Swiss filmmaker, scripted by Parreno, musing on the state of today’s popular culture and society.’


William J. O’Brien Untitled (2015)
Mixed media


Carlos Aires Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart (2010)
Engraved kitchen knives


Paul McCarthy Xmas Pudding (1999)
Glass vessel filled with red rubber


David Hammons Chasing the Blue Train (1989 – 1991)
‘‘Chasing the Blue Train’ is an installation comprising impressive grand pianos, a mountain of coal and a blue miniature train that meanders through this strange landscape to the notes of Afro-American jazz by John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk. The title is a contraction of two titles of Coltrane’s records. The train track and the coal refer to the infamous A metro line that connected Brooklyn to the New York ‘black’ district of Harlem. They also refer to the crisis of 1920-’30, in which thousands of Afro-Americans traversed the US to work in the coal mines.’


Jim Shaw Heap (2005)
plastic, spray paint, resin and metal rods


Cai Guo-Qiang Black Christmas Tree (2012)
‘In the spirit of diplomacy and Christmas, not necessarily in that order, the U.S. State Department tried to explode a large, coniferous tree today. Actually, it was contemporary Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang who tried to explode it, following a ceremony in which he and four other artists received the U.S. State Department Medal of Arts. The intent, the Los Angeles Times reports, was to create a “tree image in floating black smoke that will serve as an ethereal doppelganger for the real one.”‘


Yrjö Edelmann 5 paintings (2014)
‘Yrjö Edelmann finds inspiration in the enigmatic presence of wrapped objects. His trompe l’oeil, oil paintings depict hastily wrapped packages, homing in on their creased and wrinkled surfaces and unassuming material.’


Otto Dieffenbach 2 drones (2014 – 2016)
‘Drone craftsman Otto Dieffenbach has made a bit of a name for himself building what he calls “Identifiable Flying Objects.”‘


Scott Walker The Day the Conducator Died (An Xmas Song) (2012)
‘The song is loosely about the execution of Romanian communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu on Christmas day 1989.’


Karen Kilimnik Switzerland, the Pink Panther & Peter Sellers & Boris & Natasha in Siberia (1991)
stuffed animals, fondue pot, toe shoes, pine bow, artificial snow, candy bars, pine cone with glitter, paper lace doily, bell, two drawings, mylar, cellophane, reindeer, masking tape and decals


Bill Horton World’s Largest Entirely Edible Gingerbread House (2013)
‘The largest gingerbread house ever built, standing 20 feet high and composed of 39,201 cubic feet of gingerbread, has been constructed in Bryan, Texas.

‘Officially recognized by Guinness World Records, the tenaciously tasty treat was built by the members of the Traditions Club, a private golf club. They said they kept with the Guinness rules requiring that the entire outside structure was edible.

“We ate it all along,” Bill Horton, the club’s general manager, told GoodMorningAmerica.com. “In fact, the first day, when the Guinness World Records gentleman came, I was walking him around the building and in his British accent he asked if it was edible. So I bent down, picked up a piece that had fallen onto the ground and ate it. He looked at me and said, ‘Either it’s edible or you’re an idiot.'”


Roman Signer Les Sapins-derviches (2015)
‘In the courtyard of the castle, it is a real ballet of fir-dervishes that we are witnessing! A grove of fir trees of different sizes, decorated for the occasion, measure in their own way the earth’s attraction!’


Ben Quilty The Biggest Bottom Feeder (2018)
‘For his new series, Quilty says he “went on a search for a straight white male figure that I could use, in a sense, to build the armature of what I wanted to say on”. “When I talked to friends, and particularly female friends, about this idea that I had to use Santa … it’s surprising how many them said ‘Oh yes, I remember sitting on Santa’s knee … and feeling his erection’. Some really seedy stories [came up],” Quilty recalls.’


Taryn Simon A Cold Hole (2018)
A Cold Hole, the US artist’s new performance and installation will plunge museum visitors into icy water. A smooth layer of ice will be laid on the floor of a 40ft-by-22ft space and covered with ice chips by Simon and her team, to resemble the uneven surface of a natural frozen lake. A square hole, 5ft by 5ft, will be cut 9ft-deep into the floor to create a plunge pool, filled with salt water and kept at around 40ºF (4ºC). More than 14 tonnes of ice and water will be used, requiring structural reinforcements in the basement below. A Cold Hole invites members of the public—who must be capable swimmers, in good health and over 18 years old—to sign up in advance for cold plunges, held daily throughout the show’s run, at unannounced times.


The Fall We Wish You a Protein Christmas (2012)
‘Released in a gatefold sleeve in a imited edition of 1000 copies.’


Jeffrey Mandel Elves (1989)
There’s ONE elf! Not only that, but they didn’t use a kid or dwarf wearing a suit, they go and make top and bottom halves. You would think it was done that way so the elf could have all sorts of neat facial expressions, but it can barely move. Kirsten, Amy, and Brooke have this weird ceremony in the woods and bring the elf back to life. Soon Santa’s little killer is knocking off bit part actors, including a department store Santa. Hot on the heels of that death toll are the Nazis though, grandfather’s old friends know the elf was resurrected and want to help it mate with Kirsten. Nazis created the elf, and a perfect virgin will give birth to Aryans after it lays her. Mike takes over as the department store Santa and has something for Kirsten. The girls have a sleepover in the department store where Kirsten works. Mike shows up, the Nazis show up, and of course the elf shows up. After that Mike rushes around learning about the Nazis’ secret elf program to save Kirsten.


Andrea Fraser A Monument to Discarded Fantasies (2003)
‘A pile of discarded Carnival costumes gathered from the streets of Rio de Janeiro.’


Gary Hume Back of a Snowman (2002)
The 10-foot-tall, half-ton, faceless snowman stands outdoors. Hume has described the snowman as “the perfect sculpture, viewable from all sides, immaculate from all angles.”


Gregory Markopoulos Christmas USA (1949)
Christmas U.S.A is not a primarily erotic film, containing no nudity or even nods to the act of gay sex. Instead, the film is a narrative about the gay psyche, surviving, enduring and eventually defeating oppression by the America so lovingly elevated in Post War America. Markopoulo’s looks upon the familial unit with revulsion and fear. Mother is haggard, kid sister is suspicious, even Father with his newspaper looks to his shirtless son in fear. The boy of our narrative wanders a Kafka-esque homestead of conservatism, kept propped up by mothers domesticity and fathers glowering presence. His mere presence, glowing shirtless like a ivory Greek statue, makes the dark rooms glow with eerie brightness, as he rests his head between his masculine arms. He cannot be contained, a ceremony occurs beneath a bridge, perhaps a known cruising spot in our humble town, a clean cut boy holds a candle stick, walking towards another boy, his arms spread like Saint Sebastian, bowing to him.


Honoré d’O Gnome, extended (1999)
‘GSConnect is a complete implementation of KDE Connect especially for GNOME Shell with Nautilus, Chrome and Firefox integration. It does not rely on the KDE Connect desktop application and will not work with it installed.’


Alexander Calder Santa Claus (1974)


America’s Tallest Singing Christmas Tree (2015)
High School Choir Performs as 67 Foot ‘Singing Christmas Tree’


Per-Ingvar Tomren & Magne Steinsvoll O’Hellige Jul! (2013)
Coming from a group of enthusiastic Norwegian amateurs, O’Hellige Jul takes place in a small town the days before Christmas. Norway’s horror scene is still in its infancy, which means that mainstream movies play safe and independent movies are the ones pushing the envelope. No horror movies with two, three or four million dollars budgets have tried to be innovative in Norway so far, and O’Hellige Jul therefore joins the ranks of movies that are produced on shoestring budgets but still manages to go beyond most of what’s been seen before (FYI, a Norwegian shoestring budget could be 5 or 15.000 dollars, not the 300.000 dollars Americans call low budget).


bd594 Christmas Jumper (1998)
A video was posted by YouTube user bd594 from Toronto, Canada, over the weekend. Not only does the knit from Goodwill feature a festive tartan, it is adorned with a tinsel Christmas tree and is attached to a working toy train set which has also been decorated with cheap LED lights.


Gehard Demetz Life without Christmas (2017)
‘In his sculptures Demetz merges personalities and describes the process in which alien views, motives and behaviors merge into one’s own self. Demetz recognizes in this process the emergence of an autonomous form; two or more individual stories dissolve into each other and form a new, independent sculpture.’


Norman Rockwell Christmas Rush (Tired Salesgirl on Christmas Eve) (1947)
‘Rockwell consistently strove to imbue his paintings with a strong sense of authenticity, contributing to the idea that they were painted from life. Yet in reality the artist’s most complex compositions were thoroughly planned and staged productions. In 1937, encouraged by a younger generation of illustrators that included Steven Dohanos and John Falter, Rockwell similarly began to use photography to assist with compositional design. He typically began the creative process by sketching the scene as he imagined it. Only after painstakingly collecting the appropriate props, choosing his desired models and scouting the locations required to achieve his desired scene would photography sessions begin in his studio or elsewhere on site. Rockwell rarely took these photographs himself, however, preferring to be free to adjust each element while a hired photographer captured shots under his direction.’


Blake McKinnon Slay Bells (2021)
Slay Bells is a Christmas-themed survival horror game inspired by 80’s slasher movies and PS1 horror games. Try to make your way home on Christmas eve as you’re stalked by a maniacal axe wielding Santa who is out for BLOOD. Traverse city streets, back alleys and an abandoned subway station, find a variety of useful tool and weapons and avoid Mr Claus at all costs! Oh, and the flashlight does NOT run out of battery.’


Thomas Hirschhorn North Pole (2004)
Wood, cardboard, trestles, blue fabric, tape, chain, red spray paint, prints, bowl, screws, nails, hammer, screw gun, wire


‘French chocolate company Alain Ducasse has released a dried fruit and nut-covered festive chocolate tree that comes in a flat-pack box. The 20-centimetre-tall tree, created by graphic designer Pierre Tachon, is made up of six dark chocolate discs that gradually decrease in size to form a cone shape when stacked together. Each of the discs has a hole in the middle, which allows them to be assembled around a central chocolate rod that makes up the trunk of the tree. A separate cone piece attaches to the top of the tree to complete its appearance, and a thicker disc of chocolate creates a standing base. The box also includes a pair of white gloves to stop the chocolate from melting during assembly, and to keep the builder’s hands clean.’

Trent Parke The Christmas Tree Bucket (2007)
‘Parke photographs friends and family at Christmas. The viewer is left to make imaginative sense of images of barbeques, screaming children, a burning gingerbread house and even the photographer himself vomiting into the infamous Christmas Tree Bucket. Says Parke: “It was there–while staring into that bright red bucket, vomiting every hour on the hour for fifteen hours straight–that I started to think how strange families, suburbia, life, vomit and in particular, Christmas really was.”‘




p.s. Hey. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hey. Cool, yeah, me too: the Cornish. I didn’t watch the match but Japan’s win did make me happy, as did Germany’s loss for some reason. Have a footie weekend! ** Gick, Ha! Thanks. I hope your weekend lets you barrel through it like a train. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Oh, yeah, I agree that it’s a much more interesting list than the prior ones. Who wouldn’t have quibbles. The fact that the only experimental non-narrative films they could think of were the obvious Deren and Marker candidates is depressing, but very unsurprising. The social media offended male hoo-hah is so predictable and sad. I hope your mom’s knees improve and right themselves ASAP. I’ll check out your musical recommendations, thank you. Everyone, Steve reviews the gay male rom-com movie ‘Spoiler Alert’ here if it’s on your moviegoing agenda for some strange reason. ** malcolm, Ah, a fellow Nace fan. Do you like Body/Head too? His new album’s a beauty, and the two other videos from it are pretty much just as beautiful. I know the name Ethel Cain, but I haven’t heard the work yet. She’s playing here? But, oh, sold out, okay. I’ll find her recordings and get them in my bank. My bank being my mind, I guess. I’m basically alright now, health wise. Do you have any glory planned for your weekend, and did glory infuse the two days by choice or accident, I hope? ** Dominik, Hi!!! Oh, you know, taste is taste. The thing is to listen to whatever excites and inspires you, whatever that is. I’m just getting my desired hit mostly from the experimental wing of music these days for whatever reasons, but it’s all good. Well, except for Foo Fighters, ha ha. I’ll light a billion votive candles to supplement love’s efforts to get that company on the fiction track. Love projecting the gif at the top of this post on the living room wall of everyone’s house or apartment in the world for three hours starting now, G. ** NIT, I did! You are correct again, sir! And I spaced out and didn’t credit you, Jesus, but I have now corrected that. And if this blog could give you royalties, it would. Oh, dude, do work on stuff all day! I mean, … no brainer. Give Mr. Gluth my hugs and wishes for his impeccable well being. So great to see you, S! Love, me. ** Okay. It’s Xmas on the blog this weekend. Merry Xmas, everybody. See you on Monday.

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