Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Letter From Julie Powell

Day... The Last You'll Ever Hear From L/J&J.

Even though the Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project technically ended weeks ago, I've tried to milk every last second out of my 15 minutes of fame by extending this "celebration" period a.k.a. recapping my glorious final viewing party in Denver for all three of you readers who've stuck around. But this is it. The final final post.

It's been a pretty weird year for me to say the least. The first strange thing to happen to me was that the actual Julie Powell left a comment on my first post. And then she went away for awhile... understandably so... After all, this pretty much became primarily a Julie Powell Hate Club. But as much as I hate the she-devil (or rather, the portrayal of said she-devil in Julie & Julia), I respect her accomplishments.

So anyway, the awesome people at Denver Off-Center managed to contact the real Julie Powell to ask her about my blog and she was nice enough to give a thoughtful response. And since her year's work was pretty much the genesis of mine, I thought it'd probably be most fitting that she would get to postmortem The Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project, once and for all.

Without further ado, the real Julie Powell:


Lawrence Dai's project was brought to my attention - not by him, I might add - within the first week of its inception.  I read along for awhile, impressed by Lawrence's attention to detail (many of his early entries mirror my own nearly forgotten ones to the point of eeriness), his dedication, and most of all his sense of the meta and the random.

I will admit, after reading for awhile, I got a little soul-sick, just putting myself in Dai's shoes.  I myself have watched "Julie & Julia" 7 1/2 times, and if I ever had to watch it again, at least for another decade or so, I will probably just go ahead and stab my eyes out.  I mean, maybe "The Third Man" could withstand such abuse.  Maybe "Rashoman."  Maybe "Serenity."  But this sweet Nora Ephron movie, made from my fluffy little book?  No one could survive this.

"Surely," I thought, "SURELY he will cave on this, he will give up and get on with his life."  I hoped so, for his sake.  But he didn't.  After a while I read it only once a week, or once or twice a month.  He made a lot of funny points, a lot of sort of painfully right-on ones, and quite a few I disagreed with but found intriguing.  But still.  It hurt me.  Not because of his incredibly fair criticisms of the movie, but because witnessing sado-masochism in such an intimate and daily manner takes a lot out of a person.  Gradually I dropped out entirely, perhaps hoping that if I wasn't reading, it wasn't happening.  So imagine my shock when I heard a week ago, that not only was Lawrence Dai still watching, still blogging, but that he was at the home stretch and doing fine!  That, my friends, is strength.  It's also insanity.  But mostly it's strength.

The whole "My-year-of-whatever" trope has become the tritest cliche of blogs and blogs-to-books in the last few years, but I've always thought that what blogs really do best is chronicle obsession, and the more obscure the better.  Lawrence's dedication, his daily session of flagellation-by-rom-com, moves his project to some place beyond the usual spate of snide one-joke internet gimmicks into something else.  I am not sure what that place is, and I'm not entirely sure I want to, but it is a deep and sticky place and nutty place.  Like pie!

Chin-chin, Lawrence!  May all your dreams come true and your J&J DVD languish in some dusty corner, forever and always!

~Julie Powell


***

Listen, I know I was going to gracefully bow out and let Julie Powell have the last words, but I have to interject. ONLY 7 1/2 TIMES?!!? POOR YOU, JULIE POWELL. POOR YOU. 

Seriously though, it's very cool that Julie Powell sent that letter. And she was super complimentary and supporting of the whole thing... I think...

Anyway, though this is my official goodbye to Lawrence/Julie & Julia, I won't be leaving the blogosphere entirely. In fact, you'll soon be able to find some Lawrence Dai-generated content at typesofbabies.tumblr.com. Follow me if you wish. I know, I know--a tumblr, what? Have I sold out? Yeah, probably. And Types of Babies? What is that all about? You'll see. Soon enough. Probably sometime in January.

But hey. This thing. Julie & Julia. 365 days. 365 viewings. We did it, guys. It's been fucking real.

Mad Respect.

43 comments:

  1. RIP L/J&J. It's been an amazing run.

    The Jones doesn't smell like onions anymore, but the awesomeness from your final viewing still remains. Thanks again for making the trip to Denver, and best of luck with your next adventure!

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  2. It's been mad real. Love u.

    And I hope your new thing isn't actually about babies. Babies are boring.

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  3. Wow, Julie was far more gracious about your blog than Julia was about her's. Snaps for Julie Powell.

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  4. Awwe man.
    The end?

    The END end? End of the world as we know it?

    Time to find a new favourite blog to read...

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  5. Congrats again on sticking to the very bitter (butter??) end. And yeah, Julie Powell's letter was surprisingly sweet and gracious. Good luck on your next venture!

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  6. That was a fantastic way to end the blog. Nice job, Larry. Have a good life.

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  7. Julia Powell's letter shows how much she has grown emotionally and perhaps spiritually since her blog project, whereas you have groan and groaned so far. It will be interesting to see if you show that level of growth when you get a few years past your project.

    Wishing you well.

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  8. A fitting ending. I look forward to your new project and hope you can at least work in some baby pictures of Meryl Streep. Bitch was probably ADORABLE.

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  9. Awesome ending. She seems much cooler than I would have thought. Great blog. I'll miss checking in for my morning giggles at work.

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  10. Applause, Applause, Applause...thanks for entertaining us!!!!

    MO

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  11. classy ending post, larry. well done, and congratulations. let's celebrate in e-town.

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  12. Types Of Babies? What the hell is that?

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  13. Great to read a bit more from you. Wishing you a magnificent 2012. Thanks for this blog.
    Magical Christmas to you.

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  14. It's still hard to believe it's over. Somehow, in my mind, you'll always be here blogging about NMR and Random Actor Tuesdays. And I suppose in some fashion this blog will live on as things now tend to do in this day and age, so you really *will* always be here blogging.

    Years from now, you'll look back on your younger self and think, "WTF?" Hell, you're probably doing that already.

    Congratulations on your fortitude. You're a better man than I am, Ginga Din.

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  15. I really think Julie Powell has been unfairly treated by the media. Even though I had some legit complaints about "Cleaving" as a feminist, people forget important factors..... Like that her publishers probably wanted to keep the ball rolling with another memoir book from her, and hey, everyone is loving the "I was an Ivy League Law Student By Day/Hooker by Night" trope, so I'm sure her marital navel-gazing combined with S&M will be a big seller, right? Like the difference between Julie's original blog and Lawrence's blog here shows some problematic gender-based (and -biased) expectations from their audiences. Like there is a huge difference between a person on their blog, a person framed by a published memoir, a person fictionalized and simplified in movie form, and... a person.

    I've enjoyed your blog, Lawrence, and I've laughed at some of the comments about the "Julie" in the movie. But I want to say that what I've really come away with is that I think Julie Powell rocks. She did what lots of us couldn't do: get our silly internet rambles turned into something published for remuneration. Of course, the flip side is that the person, like the story, the book, the movie, and even the recipes, become something marketed and consumed. I don't think I could handle the constant barrage of "You suck! You suck! You suck!" in every conceivable media outlet, based on one or two edited works (not to mention a simplified and inaccurate portrayal in a freakin' Nora Ephron movie). But she did, and continues to respond with honesty, thoughtfulness and real insight.

    Julie Powell isn't Julia Child. Amy Adams isn't Julie Powell. Julie Powell isn't "Julie Powell," any more than Larry Dai in a wig was Julia Child. There's this weird postmodern mashup of identity on top of all the "meta" of the blog about a movie about a book about a blog about a book thing. It's fun, amusing and even necessary to pick it apart, analyze it, and ask critical questions.

    But at the bottom of all of this is a woman named Julie Powell who started it... who made Julia Child relevant to new audiences, who made popular an entire genre of blogging, whose story made us all (okay, me) still tear up at the epilogue "She is a writer. Her book has been made into a movie" because so many of us are working with that hope in mind. Not to mention, there is the Julie Powell who survived not only the things she described in her books and blogs, but the kind of scrutiny and pressure few could handle without heavy medication... and a gallon of compulsively consumed potage parmentier to dull the pain.

    Thanks, Larry, for such a fun project. But really... thank you, Julie.

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    Replies
    1. Here, here! Right on the money Dwanollah!

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  17. Congratulations, Lawrence, and how fantastic that Julie Powell has a certain insane reverence for you. I wonder if your life seems to be missing something, not watching the movie everyday?

    You're legendary, though. Legendary.

    Cheers and all the best to your upcoming projects!!!

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  18. Oh, I was sure there would be a nod to Meryl Streep after her Oscar win, but you see, when she won I immediately thought of your blog.

    Hope you are well in the Post LJ & J world.

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  19. Great ending to it all! You're funny as hell and I've enjoyed reading your blogs about the movie!

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  20. What's to hate about the portrayal of Julie Powell in the film Julie and Julia? It's the contrast between the lives of Julia Child in middle class luxury in 1950s France and Julie Powell in a run down area of Queens in 2010s in NYC that gives the film its dynamics.

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