Little of note to speak of, to opine about other than malaise and disgust re: RNC, other than Rick Santorum saying "child" instead of "fetus" on NPR, other than the local GenX trash-medium pub Red Streak getting up in arms against the anti-RNC protest - calling it "rude" -- this from a paper that had a "Is Pregnancy Sexy?" cover story this summer. Makes me walk around with lightning bolts in my head, muttering like Frankenstein "those fucking assholes", wishing that a giant mutant Godzilla-like fetus would come and sit on Rick Santorum, crushing him while he begs for mercy, and that I could watch it live on C-Span.
Today, I drive to Mnpls, then we're off to Rhode Island for Rjyan and Roby's costume-required-wedding in a park. I have no idea what I am going as - Miles suggested with a leotard and a toilet paper dispenser, I could go Mumenschantz.
Also, the new Xlr8r with my Le Tigre cover story on it is out today.
Special to whomever is reading this: I hope your day is really, really excellent. I hope your day is the fucking best. Whatever that entails for you.
The unbelievable greatness started about noon. I hit a thrift store for one last perusal - looking for cheap lady-singer albs for the evening's DJing stint at the Veteren Feminists of America conference afterparty. Spotted a Gladys Knight LP, kept digging behind it. Found someone's entire 60's soul collection, in prime condition - bunch of JB records, Stax, sweet Chicago soul and regional gospel choirs, Curtom sides. I grabbed them all. 23$ worth at 45 cents a piece. No, I am not shitting you, and I hate to floss, but it's more like UFO-spotting than flossing.
Two hours later, my mom calls me, from a yard sale in MN: "You are into seven-inches still, aren't you?" she asks. Of course. "Well, this person is selling their entire collection. They have every Prince single. Want me get them? How about The Time? You like The Time?" - and so on. My mom stays on the phone with me and reads off every title - and then goes through the LPs, asking which ones I want. Tons of disco and funk. 25 cents each. It as if the baby jesus opened up the heavens and spilt a beam down on me.
Then spent the next few hours picking up, lugging and setting up turntables and PA in a conference/ball room at UIC for the VFA thing. About 100 women, median age 60. Balloons and a buffet. I realize very quickly, I will not be needing the Patti Smith or Pretenders. I make friends with the bowtied waiters who are serving pink champagne and noodle dishes. I start off with some quiet, downtempo cuts: Julie London then some Dionne Warwick - but I am quickly accosted by a woman asking me to please bring the music down to a "conversation volume". I am six minutes in to my set. I turn it down from 6 to 4. She makes a thumbs down at me until I get it to 3.
Half an hour later, I am losing my mind with boredom, texting people, playing Judy Collins albums at don't-wake-the-baby volume, feeling resentful and all fuck this I start playing the most sexually explicit shit from my crate, building to a crescendo with Minnie Riperton's "Love Inside Me" with it's "Come inside me / Will you come inside me?" chorus because I know no one will be offended by it unless they get within a 10-inch radius of the PA speakers. I start checking the time on my phone every four minutes. Only three more hours to go.
Right then, the organizer comes over and tells me there is going to be a sing-along, so I can take a break. A lady in a three shades of purple pants suit sets up a keyboard next to the podium. A tipsy Bea Arthur-y woman gets on the mic, implores the ladies to put down their drinks and find the lyric-sheets in the packets. They start with an old 60's feminist rally tune, someone recites a musical poem invoking ironing, scrubbing toilets and castration, then purple lady took the mic. Her song was originally written in the early 70's, for Title 7 workshops, when she worked for the Equal Employment Oppurtunity Commision. It served as an instructional ditty on how to file a sexual harrassment complaint. She couldn't sing and play at the same time, so she gave up, got ballsy and went accapella. Lyrically, it covered what is the grounds for harrasment ( porn displayed in the work place, innappropriate touching etc), to the technical aspects of filing, having proof -- her rhymes bordered on hip hop clever. It was hysterical. The waiters, all young men of college age, were mortified.
The Bea Arthur-alike got back on the podium, explaining a song that this was something a Feminist cabal she was part of had written for a big protest in the seventies, to the melody of a showtune I did not know. At first it was about taking care of yourself (through a vegetarian diet), but then took a dramatic turn: "If you want to mind your health... your health... there is nothing like... nothing like... SCREWING! SCREWING! SCREWING!" - bellowing while she pointed at the nearest, yougest waiter, who almost shit his bowtie in fright. The chorus advocated "Homo, hetero, bi and auto! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! until you are bluuuuuuue! The more creative you are / the more it with liberate youuuuu!" - women were out of their chairs screaming with laughter, clapping. My mind was broken, I loved it.
These "little old ladies" - with their white hair and pleated front slacks are invisble to the world. Like Stealth Bombers. They are everything we do not expect from the recently AARP'd: radical, mouthy, wild-eyed and libidinous after 2 glasses of white wine.
More singing along and a limmerick about a female Pope. The organizer comes over and asks me "Do you have Helen Reddy "I Am Woman"? - we'd like to do that next and would like accompaniment." - Duh, dude, of course. How could I not? That'd be like not having Off The Wall at the cocaine-fashion warehouse party. I put on "I Am Woman" and every woman in the place is out of her chair, each of them singing loudly, making motions for me to Turn It Up . They all grab hands and encircle the entire ballroom, forming a vast parade of purple and tunics and Take Back The Night t-shirts, Terre Roche dopplegangers in sensible shoes and shell jewelry. I have never witnessed so many women so happy to be together at once, they were jubilant. I got tears in my eyes. For those two and a half minutes, I felt like "I Am Woman" was the greatest song written.
After this, the dance party started. Lyn Collins, Aretha, Tina, Staple Singers, Dusty, more Aretha, JB's "Liberation" - they went bazonkers , as J-Shep says. They were doing the most child-like, uncoordinated wiggling, riverdance-prancing I have ever seen; glorius, happy and free. They cheered at the start of each song, pointing at me and hooting. I felt like Paul Oakenfold playing to 20,000 Belgian ravers.
Once they got a little tired out, I gave them a breather with "Chuck E.'s in Love" into "Help Me" off Court and Spark . Some of the women sighed, one put her hands over heart in reverent thanks and smiled.
A woman in a batik yellow outfit who had been waltzing, floating, shoeless on the parquet the whole time came over and said to me "I think, when I live my life over again, I want to be a chorus girl. I always wanted to be a dancer. I think I would dance at night, then during the day take classes in anthropolgy and geography, then when I got older, I would become a travel writer, and go dancing everywhere," and then did a little pirouette and danced away.
Today, a friend, who is in AA, recounted this story:
"So, last night I spoke at this meeting at a Jewish treatment center here in LA. And, you know, no place, aside from perhaps prison, is as heavy with sexual tension as a treatment center because everyone is about one minute sober, has no idea what to do with themselves and just wants to bang. It's totally nervewracking to be around. Anyhow, so I walk in to the office, which is staffed by two girls, maybe seventeen, who are residents-in-treatment. I tell them I am there for the meeting. One of the girls just eyes me, then goes "You're early, sit down." and seats me at a chair that occupies the two feet of space between their desks, and then they resume their conversation. One says "Yeah, I just like to get on and ride and ride," to which the other replies "Nope, not me, I like to be on the bottom, just having the shit fucked out of me."" Then there is a silence, and they just look at me and the "shit fucked outta me girl" asks "So, you Jewish?"
Last night, I was out on my bike, stopping by friends', trying to see if anyone had some Elmers or super glue they could loan me, as I was mid craft project ( glueing six inches of my freshly cut hair to a CD case for an auction for a childrens charity - no, really!). It was a little after midnight. I was standing outside Miles' apartment, which is above the Empty Bottle, waiting for him to answer, and overheard an extremely drunk man in the throes of a personal melee:
(slurring all words together, almost yelling) "No. No! You know I am the best boyfriend you have ever had. Or will have! Ever. (pause) Listen. You cannot do better than me. (pause) . You know, go ahead, go fuck him. But it won't be better than me. Ever. I'm the best boyfriend. Everrrrrrr ."
Lastly, Jon Caramanica is examining disturbing shit with fun and ease over at his spot.
Tonight in the car, I was playing this really wretchedly poignant Joni Mitchell song with strings that make you wanna swan dive off the 90/94 overpass on to the greasy tar-top. JR and Josh listened carefully for a minute.
Then, JR, newly single, newly 30, spake thus:
"Why do I have to identify with these songs now? With songs about the adult set of problems? Can't I just have "Smells Like Teen Spirit" back?"
Last night, I asked Nandini how she is so happy all the time and she thought for a second:
"I've been really broke, lately. I think that's it. It makes you desperate to be self-satisfied. Well, that and I never have a boyfriend."
She's all radical shift & running free from capitalism and Cosmo-quiz servitude.
My mind broke in half by page two.
Julian Casablancas' wife's livejournal , dishing with typical-blog candor, - but to the extreme - mainly about her relationship with Julian, plus the rest of the Strokes, parties in the Hamptons, her senior year at Columbia and being very drunk very often. It's like Ultragrrrl as teenage Godzilla.
The new Q and Not U is exactly what you want it to be , but gives it to you with a fierce dance-floor-clap backhand, really.
It's an album for the dancing people yet is not lowest common denominator, and does not ride the DFA line (Disco Express) out to Coney Island. It's been three summers since The Rapture felt like a heaven revelation, so technically, by looking at the calendar and the record store wall with the new Avenue D 12"s on it, examinging our coffin nails, we know - yes Punk disco is "played- out", but dance music is always good, and this is dance music , and this record has real beat and real politics - and unlike our buddies at radio4 and Le Tigre-land, QANU tries something new and delivering like UPS.
(Q and Not U is the white horse, and does the (white) pony. )
The beat drops right away on "Wonderful People" and then will not be sated, and I'm all "ya man, go all night, I'm down". When C. Richards sings in the Morris Day punksetto, then peels out into this girl from Deerhoof/Guy Piccotto shuddering and stuttering breathy high tone squeal, it's a totally bananas. Then they go on making like a two-chord Joe Jackson party band - singing about diamond mines and current administration, with someone making this Sea-world squirty animal harmony in the background - really 3-d on the party band tip. They are absolutely dedicated and realizing the party band fun, without the party band slop.
ALSO - IT'S A PUNK ALBUM WHERE THEY REALLY JUST PUT THE FOCUS ON SINGING. Can you believe it? I mean, it's a firstm unless you want to throw the first That Dog album in for good measure - but lets leave the early nineties out of this. So much SINGING!
Q and Not U used to sound like a band that was 43% mostly just a good ideas up the pike. You could hear intent and principal, but they did not have the party stomp down on record, just like, live they were trying to pass on the emo chiascuro, and would come on like Lungfish love songs doing Donna Summer, which was wonderful, but really like, the grueling side of music puberty - it was like 'well, yeah, they'll be really hot once they get those braces off their teeth"...
Now, we got the summertime 808-style pound-out made on a real woodblock on track eight (I'm not getting up to check). Harris Klahr has a voice like a police state - ominous and depressing. He's totally the woodwinds, Chris is the sweeping strings. Not to play faves, but Chris is my favorite. Harris Klahr sounds like the name of a table you buy at Ikea.
(Plus, on this album, you get "Book of Flags" again, re-recorded with a new breakdown and toms that sound like enourmous plastic buckets, which was last years hot dose single (is that Ian MacKaye we spy on backups?) - plus it's poemic and polemic. I like it best when Chris yells " I knocked your system up / I drank your system down / I'm showing symptoms / I fucked your system / Now, I'm pregnant with the whole damn town!" - for good measure, get the single, for party play.)
This Saturday, I am DJing the closing reception for the Veteran Feminists of America conference at UIC. It's for women who have been in the women's movement since 1965. With this in mind, I rented the puniest PA system I possibly could, which the organizers were very excited about "Oh good, we'd like you to keep it quiet!"
And what are the hot plates I rounded up in the dead-alb's bin at Reckless for the VFA break-of-dawner? Carly Simon albums, Rickie Lee Jones debut, Judy Collins - Judith, a mint copy of Court and Spark , Linda Ronstadt - Heart Like a Wheel, Helen Reddy's Greatest Hits (I could probably play both sides in their entirety if i wanted), Carole King - Music, Dionne Warwick, Anita Baker "Givin' You The Best That I Got" and if I feel like taking it up-tempo some Minnie Riperton. Total cost for this lite/femme shopping spree: ONE DOLLAR. Please believe I plan to have radical nanas bumpin' on the parquet until things wrap at 9 pm with the accoustic gonzo (and maybe some Laura Nyro if I can dig it up).
While I remain tangled in the pathology of my own mind, I usher you elsewhere - over to the Fitted Sweat blogspot, where Jeff Johnson is being rill funny .
For those with a calendar and pocket cash: My birthday is next week. I will be 28, but still looking like a very tired 17. I know, yr already thinking "Jessica has everything - I can't get her a fruit basket again this year either!" - this is what I want:
an above ground pool (5 foot depth) and a long handled net to clean it
a 64 gallon drum of ripe pluots
a no-kill mouse trap
a New Found Glory change purse
a home made Kim Gordon shirt, with a picture you drew of her in sharpie marker - I am a youth large or size childrens 14/16 in hanes t's.
my Richard Buckner albums back
some velcro strips
that Mars Volta CD
a few yards of pink ribbon
My synapses fired all wrong all morning. I called my mother and asked her what to with my crazy head. She told me to go outside. I laid on a blanket in the yard, with the sun scorching the back of my black t-shirt. I read Anne Lamott's book about having a baby, which is really more just a book about being in love with God after spending years and years vaccumming cocaine like a shop vac while living on a house boat in Marin.
Sean stayed in the house, mostly, and would chat me up through the kitchen window, periodically, batting his eyes at me through the screen.
The airshow is happening down at the lake. Today is the old-fashioned plane day. They are quiet, just puttering.
Yesterday, all quiet was atomized by Blue Angel formations splitting the air. I saw a stealth bomber flying low, while trapped in traffic. It is, appropriately, the most stunning aesthetic/visual representation of death I have ever seen, it was gliding, like a kite. Like a black oragami swan, flattened in the sky. Then about a minute later, it's sound moved through. It rattled my marrow like bass on the rearview.
I thought about how many times they have flown over Iraq in the last 12-13 years, thought about how shaken I am from them just running laps around my city politely, to woo oohs and ahhs from the yay-hoos in the yard chairs down at the shore. As they loop up in tight fours, arcing and racing and diving, folks clap for where technology and man's cunning has gotten us. What an asshole country we be, weekend-watching plane spectacle for entertainment , watching the war-made machines, playful on their days off from dropping detonation for kids to catch in some other land.
I wrote to Sasha about his responce to Franklin's list this morning. Sasha said "post it", and Sasha is somebody else's dad, but I listen to what he says like he is mine to. Please note I am not being saucy for real. I am being saucy and taste-snobby for fake because I wrote this, literally, nine minutes after waking up. I like Franklin, he's smart! Blogging is about debating en public. Feel the heat!
Text as follows:
"If anyone, anywhere is trying to get you to listen to Bettie Seveeert again, you should instruct them to find a fax machine, insert themselves into it and dial into the future! COME TO WHERE WE ARE! It's great!
PS. It's part of our duty, as people with ears, to beef with indie rock lyrics, to beef with whiteness (metaphorically, literal, and metaphysical). Most people cannot write their way out of loose, greasy hamster habitrail, and thusly thats why people celebrate Modest Mouse and other things that affirm our right to indulgence. Indie rock fandom is a scion of duty, blind abidance -- we care -- so we naysay.
NOW, indie rock lyricists I like, which for this morning is tempered by what I can see because for some reason I went to the internet before i even brushed my teeth or showered (what is wrong with me!?). (Also note, a list of "trad" indie, not cassette only bands (thats cheating!) or New Zealanders or punk-punkers, even, really, just inclusive-revisionist Olympia style everyone's a punk-punkers):
Travis from Dis Plan
Dan Higgs of Lungfish
Chad from B. Pill/ Smart Went Crazy
Buckner is great too, but I wish he was a little more raw sometimes and I also wish I knoew who had all my Buckner albums. WAIT A MINUTE CHRIS RYAN HAS THEM!
Mark Lanegan is underrated, but if he sang any different than he sang, I doubt I would care
I like K. Hanna too, but I think sarcasm is a brittle way to get your agenda across. But she wins because she made everyone uncomfy. Le Tigre lyrics I like to read, like better than BKill.
Guy, and Ian, but not the bassist who's name I forget.
Kim Gordon & Thurston (not Lee - simply becuase singing about a sailboat explosion amidst kim singing about kissing and thurston singing about J mascis! Christ!)
The girls from Black Peppercorns. They have a song about a First Aid Kid and a song about their mom dying. That's dexterity, mon homme.
Courtney Love - because even when she's too obvious, it's weirdness only in the name of some fantasticly imagined greater feminist good where she is a deity and no girls get called fat or slut. Too bad citing allegiance with anything "her" now gets you scoffs and looks like you just shit the bed. Lyrically: Kurt = eternally overrated, Courtney = lyrical power will be forgotten until she dies.
Craig Finn. Lifter Puller and Hold Steady -- His themes and delivery are indelible.
I like Catpower lyrics, but mostly for the way she sings them.
I started liking Smog again this year, but I do not like him because you can tell he knows he is clever. He's got a couple devices, the way he turns phrases out, he knows what he's doing, and they are good, I can give him that much. I like it when he goes "when you were just a little squirrel" and I like it when he goes "I was a teenage spaceship." Those are the best. "
Addendum: I cannnot get down with the rest of Franklin's list because he's got David Berman from Silver Jews showing up on that barometer. To me that say we're working on different spectrums entirely. I have to get out my Steve Malkamus limited edition Matador '96 cum rag/hat to concave my worldview enough to let David Berman take up residence.
I know whomeever has them is surely reading this. Get them records back to me youngster, it was like 2000 when I loaned them to you.
Peter Scholtes goes deep on an oral history of Minnesota hip-hop . This is epic and will eat an entire afternoon of precious worktime, and the pictures will make you rethink your looks for fall, entirely. Be forewarned!
Also, in a massive stroke of luck, or rather, owing to Kiki Yablon's deep benevolence, my "I spent my summer on Warped tour" essay is the coverstory on The Chicago Reader, out today. It's not actually posted online until it's archived next week (I think.). So no links, only hard copies - if you live in town. ( I swear, I am not lying, it does exist, just not on the internet)
My boyfriend's version of these same events, is available on news stands today in the form of SPIN magazine, his accounting is much more candid than mine.
Jonah Bayer's version of Warped All Summer Long is up, now, as well. Jonah ran the Alt. Press autographing tent for like, 5 weeks. Last time I saw him, he had a rash from his wristband, a sunburn, a look in his eye that indictated he had moved beyond the threshold . Imagine your job was keeping Taking Back Sunday or Motion City Soundtrack or Rufio fans from getting out of hand. Watching girls squeal-weep as some dude in a terrible band signs their 15 year old stomach would make yr arm have a rash too! Think about it!
Sunday, my sis and I, we bailed, to see our Nana, who is way on the otherside from us, past Indianapolis. 249 miles sayz the odometer. Nana, she is 86 and rolled over in bed wrong and crunkled something badly, in her withering-boned back. She needed extra love and day time companionship while the rest of my family who normally cares for her are all at their jobs (my uncle, aunt and cousin all start their workday at 5 am, reading meters/inspecting sewers, manufacturing venetian blinds and logging with a $1600 chainsaw - respectively), so we went down to spend some time.
Yesterday, I watched my nana cry from pain and it made me want to punch things like some stupid jock because I felt so absolutely powerless. All I could do was give her her pain medicine, put a blanket on her feet and hold her winkled, miniature hand until the medicine did what I could not for her. We watched the Olympics, sat on the porch swing for hours at a go, discussed animals, babies and the weather, while smoking white-filtered cigarettes.
We talked at length about dead and living relatives who I last saw in 1979 or 1987, and their recessions in health. I do not mind this, as all the relatives have terrific, glamourous names: Geneva, Sis, Noble, Hyacinth, Zola. I am related (not sure how) to a woman named Madonna Cherry , whom (I cannot distill from stories) may or may not be alive, or dead after long incidence of complex strings of illness, but definately lived up the way .
During this same three day period, I was asked, appox. sixteen-eleven times when I am getting married and/or pregnant (no "if", just WHEN) and asked unanswerable questions like "Sooooo, your mom said your boyfriend is a rapper. What's he rap about?" . Immediately, I began flipping questions to my cousin, (who coaches deaf cheerleading for a living), and started quizzing her about how she taught her deaf dog to understand sign language , rather than attempting explaination that my genius boyfriend makes his living rhyming about, like, you know, fatherhood, blowjobs and hating the goverment.
There is little else to tell that would not take 5,000 words to explain. I can not get all Didion and explain exactly what was there by what was missing. I remember this: My cousin gave us a tour of family property and all his deer stands in varying trees and fields. This season's mowing and hay-bailing was also summerized during this time. He ran down exactly which wild animals, when eaten, do or do not taste "just like chicken." My uncle, last night, after five beers and q.t. by the bonfire he built in the yard, talked with curdled resentment towards the Department of Land Management, who, some 40 years ago, "condemmed" 530 acres of cattle ranch land belonging to the family, in order to make a state park, and how he's threatened people riding horses on the statepark land with a shotgun when they get too close to the property he still owns. These sentiments, of rightful ownership, of justice being served with guns, of the country-way being the real way -- are echoed the mind of every male member of my Indiana family.
My sister and I kept exchanging like-whoa looks from across the fire all night, as my uncle and cousin told us about thier lives: about guns, animals, freak weather, chain saw woes, crooked local cops, tresspassing, this years tomatoes vs. last year tomatoes, cars, tractors, trucks, hay, trees, mosquitos, local water rites, restoring windmills, weather vanes, transmissions, mulch, fences, working for the county, bullfrogs, normal little frogs, my dead grandpa, dumptrucks, 4H championships, the peace you can only find in a deer stand at 4 am. All people who live in the country are a kind of smart and a kind of real that you cannot purloin or borrow or possess unless you grew up there. My sister and I silently envied their steadfastness, their pride, their ability to use a bow and arrow and marvelled deeply at just how vast gulf between our lives and theirs is.
It is, at once, tranversible, and then, not at all.
The remodeling makes every aisle a tight squeeze. He was a half-section ahead of me on the fiction new arrivals cart, so it was like I was following him through. Every few minutes, I would chase up on him, give a little "excuse me", he would back up or tilt his entire torso so that I could get in to read the spines too. I did not want to be obtrusive, so I just got down on all fours, eye level to the shelves. In the tight proximity, I could smell his feet, sour and sockless in torn-up leather boat shoes like the one's my dad wore on weekends. I was looking for books about god. I imagined he was looking for Ayn Rand.
I have to remind myself not to be seduced by saturated candycolor on the spines. Titles and authors conglom into a half-familiar romance of names, I roll their jumble around on my tongue trying to decifer which ones I recognize from recommendation and which ones come from somnambulant recollection due to sleeping through an hour of NPR every morning. I do not want to leave until I can get at them all. New Arrivals, Fiction, Poetry, War (sorted by decade, then country), Autobiography, Art, Myth... I want to touch them and chew them. Eat and injest all the rows. I want all of them.
Then, out of habit, I check on my four favorite books, seeing if they are in stock. Just to check. Just to see them.
Traded Moneyball (got to the second page, remembered I barely comprehend baseball), some overbearing Jong-volumes, Foucault on semiotics ( at least thats what I thought it was about), Generation Ecstacy (sorry), Everett's Ramones book (iconic yes, heroic and compelling enough to read about for more than a chapter: neigh) and some bad book club fodder someone passed on for greater good. Their space on my shelves now to be taken up by collected Lowell , a new translation of the myth of Pope Joan , some Wanda Coleman , and as I do with every trip to Myopic -- an additional copy of Didion's The White Album to give away next time someone needs it.
On the back of the dust-jacket, her author portrait takes up a full page. Just her, staring, but with immutable presence - her mind is fixed, her eyes locked on some low horizon (I imagine she's starting at a child in a pool, or someone docking a boat) . This copy, this book, someone loved enough to let it be used to drive a nail into the wall - there are nail-head pocks and impressions all over her broad cheekbones.
Stevie Wonder (c.86) delivery, channeled through Wham!, as performed by Tevin Campbell. I dare you $1000 dollars to tell me it's not 86% Tevin Campbell with dry-humping.
The funny thing is happening, really the most obvious thing, but none the less, it feels worth remarking upon. Reading different takes on the same night on someone else's blog. Granted, Miles is one of my best pals and my bandmate, so it's not a terrible surprise when we wind up doing the same thing . What Mile did not note about his evening: He was wearing a tan sport coat and eating Ritz crackers.
Miles suggests the first A Billion Dollars shirts read "A Billion Dollars Got Love For Hos." I think that in the Golden Age of Irony and the Afterglow of the Calculatedly Earnest Era should be put under quickly, and that we should herald the much needed the Decade Long Bender of Welcoming Positivity (aka the future where no one is a ho, or at least no one uses ho in the purjorative, but rather in self-celebration only) and thusly I counter with: " A Billion Dollars is a Great Band That I Like" - or nothing at all. Blank t shirts for those with atrophied imaginations. At least that way the shirt is perfect, and also goes against the grain of band shirt as identity signifier/ the potent free ad space of the young chest -- your fandom is secret and precious, sacred, freeing us all from the bilious profanity of the concept of BAND T-SHIRT. Is that too conceptual?. I think 2005 is about telling the truth, because lying and having autonomy from reality-at-hand is very Current Administration, and thusly, should not be echoed or emulated on any level, intra-personal or in collective identity or spirit.
I spent my whole summer on Warped, dudette, everything from the foamy script on an Atreyu shirt to the type-writer sans serif font on the NEW FOUND GLORY HOT PINK HEART SHAPED CHANGE PURSE is lying to us . 2005 = The joy of Telling It Like It Is or not at all.
(P.s. My birthday is Sept 5th, and I would really like that NFG change purse. They are only 5 dollars. I'm so serious.)
Also, lets not forget, it's almost the weekend and The Casual Dots are a terrific band with such wicked songs .
Al and Nora do not have a phone, so they stop by, which I like. It's old-timey and small towney and makes me wistful for back when cell phones did not exist and you just had to show up places and hope for the best. They stopped by today to use my phone and tell me about the piano recital at Heaven tonight.
The recital was a dress up thing, but I dressed all fatigues by accident. Liz kept calling me "Fidel". The reciters were wearing fancy outfits by local art-school designer. Kimi wore a see-thru lace dress and mens underwear, another girl, who sang Lacrymosa from Mozart's Requiem was dressed as a sailor-baby and tugged on her navy collar as she trilled. My friend Faten wore a piratey coat that was velvet and had one trillion buttons, ruffled panties like a baby wears and had a drawn-on eyeliner moustache that curled up at the ends. She had to unzip and remove her knee high leather heel-boots to play Greig's Norweigen Concerto. Not to play favorites, but she killed it with the Greig.
People in Chicago like to dress up. I think it helps them justify the cocaine (thats just a hunch). Many of the people at the recital looked like they were going to a party on a sailboat. In 1983. The same way they dressed last time I saw them grinding ass-up, high on the dance floor to Franz Ferdinand at whatever stupid party we were last at. Al, who grew up going to recitals, as his mother was a concert violist, was disconcerted by the amount of nipple-bearing for such an event. Incongruent or strangely sacriledge?
I was not nearly as disconcerted by fuck-me outfits on the piano bench as I was by the 19-year-old boy next to me who had a heart and banner tattoo with the word "MORRISSEY" in it. Loving the Smiths is one thing, but loving Morrissey is another thing entirely.
Harrisburg International to the smartly remodeled concourses in Pittsburgh to Home. Home official.
All the children on the planes today were beautiful, sweetly minding patient pillow-breasted mommies. All the mothers were golden and had soothing voices, and I was flush with jealousy for childhood - namely theirs... Turkey-neck men who refused to loosen their ties despite a two hour flight (that's business travel for you) fetched Barbie back-packs from overhead, honoring their man-duty. Spent at least half an hour talking myself out of speculating whether the stewardess' smiles were real. Was it possible that they found joy, tangible hard joy, in the little exchange of pretzels. I wanted the answer to be yes. Yes, there are people who smile til their eyes squinch up, for almost no discernable reason, and yes this is ok. "Real" does not exist. What would Buddha do? Yes, yes, the answer is elected as "yes."
Today was my last day of Warped-stinting for the summer. My last tour day for a while. It is a good thing to be home. Because, as Didion said, the center is not holding. It refuses to.
I have seen too much America. 10,000 empty hours in venues and vans has turned some part of my humanity to sooty dust, and my heart to a scab and all I can seem to blame is that I have seen the inside of too many neon-lit Citgo filling station aisles, with it's no carb everything and extreme neon drinks and now I know that all adults are evil, only children are good, that many people think Slim Jims are food, that all media is a lie, that my eyes get wet with tears everytime I see Paris Hilton's too tanned equine face on the cover of a magazine, cement depresses me unless I lay on it. Mountain Dew, groupies, holiday-themed candy, glimpses of the president and littering now strike me with equal heart-searing gravity. Everywhere there is a war we do not know about, and every life is tiny and sad and amazing at the same time, and everyone is the same kind of lost. Watching people sing, with conviction, alone and loud, in their cars is my last vestige profoundly moving experience.
My boyfriend, whom, when I travel, I am usually with, has spent the last seven years living a life that is mostly tour. He has a humanity that is thralling and pyrous inspite of this. He is all kindness where I am all squirrelly noblesse oblige with the cab drivers. The world breaks his heart, too, I watch, everyday. On his tours, after he plays, he stands by the merch booth and gives the kids firm hand shakes and hugs when they ask and jovial realness that no one ever seems to afford teenagers. I am in awe of him. I want to be that thing too.
Last night, he and I were stranded for about an hour, waiting for a cab, at some mall- theatre around Hershey PA. We sat on the cooling blacktop and watched the teenagers disperse into parental loan-cars, a couple make out against a dumpster with their lips locked - hands going to futher than shoulders. A half-hour after the last movie goers had cleared out, one of the worker kids, some 11th grader assistant manager, came back with his friends, unlock the Century City Mall 6 and go in. We imagined them drinking lite beers pilfered from someone's older brother and running Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle . Later on past that, two loner best friend boys, maybe 13 or 15, walked laps, ambling through the lot, cutting back and forth from the JC Penny end to a lightpost in the middle, twice in forty minutes. They walked close for boys that age. We speculated they were in love and did not know it.
In all of this I felt like I had glimpsed the nucleaus of purity, lensed in a mall parking lot and it made me hopeful.
Warped is only but one way to reach the young. Infinite webs of exploitation, laid out, tracked, so casually. Camp is supposed to be about making god's eye from yarn and popsicle sticks, dog.
Trevor's Warped roundup sets the scene nicely..
Today we have a day off, kicking it casj and watching the evil CNN, in a smoking room at the Radisson, enjoying respite from the kid-hordes and the imitation Santa Ana winds from the hot exhaust sweeping through the bus village. Out of the rapids of commerce and into the sluggish-pulse bloostream of a sterile creme-walled room, with a suitable view of the shady suburban lanes of Hershey, PA.
The tour stops on the East Coast leg are between one to three hours apart, with bus call between 1am and 4am. Last night, parties broke out, everyone looking for a good time but held hostage by a curfew and isolated location - a ghosted speedway six miles out of Englishtown New Jersey. The people cruised aimlessly through the long aisles between the busses: kicking trash, looking to get in on dice and Texas hold 'em games, looking for girls that might be loitering. Pete and I were looking for a snack and hydrogen peroxide for his cut finger. We only found cigarettes.
Pete is on the International Noise Conspiracy bus. INC quoted Springsteen on stage, in honor of the pitstop in dirty Jerz. Turns out le Boss was in attendance, chaperoning his kids, and INC wound up hanging out with him. Tellingly, no one recognized him because most of the audience was born in the mid-eighties. He's just another sunburnt dad sitting through NOFX's set. All night, Pete and the INC boys kept peppering conversational silences with "Hey man, remember when we hung out with THE BOSS this afternoon?" - chasing it with heavily accented giggles.
INC, despite being punk rockers on a tour with 500 other punk rockers, are clearly alienated. They just hang out by themselves, watching Band of Brothers and reading 600-page lefty tomes, from what I gathered. I'm not sure if the aleination has more to do with them being Straightedge Swedish Socialists, or that almost no one seems to know who they are, their agendas and garage-dance music met with dead-eyed apathy from the Warped audience. In the two years since their last Epitaph album they have gotten bumped from two conglomerated labels in a row, and are floating in some Geffen-embossed-etherworld, with an unreleased Rick Rubin produced album in tow. Meanwhile, another Swedish band in matching outfits gained popularity in their stead.
I did some time in the merch booth with Pete, who I just spent three months on tour with, trying to leaven his boredom and heat exhaustion with gifts of vegan cookies and back issues of the New Yorker. Ninth graders perused the merch tables silently, looking over the goods, which included a sizeable assortment of lefty books from AK Press . I let Pete sit back in his deck chair while I goaded the kids to try and pick up the Cometbus anthology or books on Iraq. A group of boys, all still shy of puberty, clad in near identical Hurley-gear ask "You have any books on Bush?" - but the only applicable Bush analysis is a 256 pg. volume from Verso that I doubt I could make it through. I make some other suggestions, trying to upsell them against all odds, but they were happy to just settle for some free stickers...
PS> Honk if your hate Alan Keyes .
Back on Warped tour. Camden New Jersey and now New York. Lucky streak with Cee-lo is over. I lost 12$ shooting dice last night and that was that. Slept strange and dreamt I was in a performance art/musical revue called "RONALD REAGAN WAS A NAZI" in which I portrayed Nancy.
Trevor was at the show today, with a pin on his hat that said MALL EMO with a heart. I saw him last week, when he passed through Chicago en route to moving here. I put a nine hour mix-tape on his iPod for his enjoyment, which he is still making his way through. We talked about California and Didion and his need for a pedicure.
I did not watch any bands, but walked around taking pictures of the kids. Today is the biggest show of the tour, sold out crowd of 25,000. The kids here were not as punk-looking as other crowd. Just dusty and enthusiastic. The lens on the camera did not feel big enough to take it all in. I couldn't get it right.
Now we are downtown in a hotel. There are people across the street having sex. Tonight we go and front like we are social with our New York People, then head to Englishtown NJ, for the next installment of mall emo.
Tonight, I quit the band. No ill will, no hurt feelings, though some crystalline moments of sadness and unspoken what-ifs. I am not a band lifer. I'm it in for the ego and the evangelism, the occasioning to wear great outfits. The new EP - fresh from the studio oven - makes me want to convulse because I love it so much. The shrill guitar solos gallop into the sunset and I remark, in my tiny unicorn-y pea brain, just how lucky a girl is when she gets to stint in her favorite band.
After that, I went to the bar, which I love because the water at the bar has ice in it, and I do not have ice for the water at my house. Being a non drinker, having a casual time with 40 minutes til last call... the slackened muscles in the face of the fake Karen O that always tries to pick up Miles, the bored looking loners tapping S-O-S's into the ashtray rims, observing their own smoking with care, the band guys talking about their new guitars, their next tour, the next right move, the people who are way too drunk for a Thursday, the hipsters who watch the door and look over your shoulder at the action while they nod and dole out sympathetic "totally, totally" mots atchoo. The twighlighted post college years, before the Jim beam steals your looks, when the beer is still a party and not yet habitual, adult problems not yet slaying you.
Everyone is still cool.
It's all still cool, man.
Today's halftime show:
1. Every article I have seen on the Chicks with Attitude tour make me want to unibomb my own apartment. This being no exception. Also, after 11 years, Liz P is getting no love locally (She's old! Divorced! Too sexy! Can barely play guitar! Sings poorly! Too self possesed! - Jae Ha Kim lets it flow like Niagara Falls). Maybe that explains why in every single press photo Liz is spread eagle'd and half naked, crawling on the floor or casually pointing at her cho-cha .
2. Q-Tip answering reader querie in Jane. Reader asks "Is it okay to not dress up for a date, if I don't feel like it?" Q responds: Yes, he expects girls to dress up for dates -- dressing up is nice, though not dressing up is ok, as long a girl's outfit has "some consistency." (?)
Last night, Miles and I went to see Del Cielo at the Big Horse. The Big Horse is a pizza/taco place that has a sliding porch door rather than a normal front door, which adds to the decrepit junkie-bar atmosphere. The cook came out from behind the counter in his apron and took our money. He did not have a thumb.
We split mid-set and went to a food bar, where we then camped for three hours, trapped by the flash-flood style rain. Tim Rutilli was DJing Spaceman3, Liz came over and giggled and gossiped and showed us her tan, fresh from the playa en Mexico. We talked about our new band A Billion Dollars and our inchoate desire to play "Louie Louie," -- if you are in a band - it's a script in your DNA.
Miles and I talked about "emo" porn and an interview I had read with Keiko, the star of the forthcoming Art School Sluts . Porn has been the hot topic of late, or the subject of much interrogation from me, amongst my porn-watching male friends - why they watch it, what they like and why, what they think about it, how they got into watching porn, do they have any moral dilemmas with it . Someone asked me a few weeks ago how I felt about porn. I said I didn't know, "What do you mean you don't know?" they said -- I should really know. Being a feminist, a dworkinist-feminist at that, I am of several, polarized minds about porn, something I am barely familiar with. In order to find a solid opinion on the topic - I committed myself to research. Thus, I just think it's "funny" (anyone having sex on the roll bars of a Jeep Wrangler is bound to be) and "interesting" (girls on cocaine are rarely otherwise!), neither of which really constitutes an opinion. Though, Ben just offered to loan me a DVD of Weapons of Ass Destruction , which, sounds like it could be a real opinion-maker.
The weekend was spent under the cloak of deadline and young love, back on Warped for another two days, vascilating between the airconditioned den in the back of the bus, and the dense air of the central Florida heat. Holding hands. Transcribing notes. Pounding king cans of 10th Anniversary Warped Tour Water to keep from expiring.
We ate at an IHOP in Pompano Beach, outside of the concert campus fairgrounds, along a strip that offered used cars, all of them littered with red, white and blue, deflating, flaccid balloon carcasses and strings - killed by the torrential downpour, now finding graves on hot car hoods. Six lanes of freeway lined with fantastic verdancy strung with Spanish moss, all of it newly minted by the rain.
Coming back from the IHOP, long after Warped closed up shop, the last of the mohicans were loitering in front of a pizza place. One stopped us and asked, almost yelling, popping teen energy like a guyser: "Hey, did you walk all the way down there? You didn't see the bassist of Anti-Flag did you?" We did not know where there was, or all the way down there for that matter, or which young man with the mohawk was in Anti-Flag.
I tried to imagine why he needed this information, and why he had been standing at the corner for an hour, with this as the urgent question in his mind. If we had said, yes, yes - what would it have validated for him? Instead, we shrugged, in unison.
There are 650 people on Warped at this weeks tally. 3/4ths of one percent of them are in Anti-Flag.
Earlier that day, the wet, muggy heat gave way to the sky getting cut open, drenching the kids for hours. They pelted each other with mud, waiting for NOFX to take the stage. Dan and I hit catering and walked around, surveying it all. A group of young men (closer to boys, really) had sought refuge under an adult only beer patio of some sort, it was cramped, they sat indian style, hunched and had an operation of sorts going. Several handwritten signs advertised a spot under the scaffolding with them -- entrance "$1 or BOOBIES". I crouched down to check them out. I announced up to Dan "Hey, Dan, there are some little boys down here, maybe 13 or 14, they want a dollar or boobies..." - Dan squats down and starts taking their pictures. Startled, they offer a rebuttal, eyeing the implications of authority -- our All Access laminates dangling: Many girls have taken them up on their boobies offer, GLADLY. And and and they are not 13 years old. They are 19 and 20. Dude.
We stand out in the rain, Dan snapping pictures of the muddied masses yearning to be dry. The boys tough pose, arms mock-around each other - hovering touches never made official -- very mindful to maintain a distance that says, in all caps: "We're not gay. We're barely even touching." All the girls seemed drunk, they posed, batted the lashes, gave pouty sneers, struck sapphic poses with one-another, then high-fived Dan and stumbled away into the crowd like Bambi into the forest.
Sometimes I wish I had one of those nets that cartoon crime fighters had, or maybe a bamboo covered tiger trap set up next to a Taking Back Sunday autograph booth. I want to capture a couple teenagers and ask them about 77 question about three things. Spending 16 days this summer on Warped has left with me with little other than questions, all related to commerce and kid-science.
The next day, we were someplace else in Florida. I think Jacksonville. It was approximately 400 degrees all day. Sean played early and we went and checked into the Hilton, for showers and rest and internet. Our visit was coninciding with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. I was wearing a bikini, a tour laminate and carrying a computer bag. I felt terribly conspicious, . I wanted to jump off the tour and hang at the SCLC conference instead.
At 10, we headed back to the bus, settled in as the the pumpkin-coach whisked our Cinderella'd azzes north to Carolina. I watched Dan and Alexei and Sean play dollar hands of Cee-lo on a fold-up camping table until I kind of had the basic premise down. (Like all places with epic strecthes of nothing to do ( jail, old folks homes) there is gambling everywhere on this tour. Namely, cee-lo and high stakes poker tounerys.) I bought in with $5. Up until that point, I had never gambled in my life. I put my five poker chips in the basin of my skirt and started rolling the dice. I started rolling triples and cee-lo's. I started making Sean kiss my hand for luck. I was up about 40, twice, then got down to my last 5 chips, as Sean had started calling 5 dollar hands.
From the that point on, I stayed up. We moved from 5$ hands, then Alexei went out. Sean upped the ante and we moved to eight, ten and 12, to 20 a hand, until Dan was out. Sean engaged me in two 50$ hands and a 100$ hand, just because he's the gambling type. I took him in all three rounds and cashed in, up 295$ - after starting with 5$. Granted, most of my earnings belonged to my boyfriend, the rest was Alexei's Odd Jobs merch money, so I felt terrible about this, really, and offered to give it all back, but they made me keep it. Everyone hated playing with me, because aside from being way too lucky, I had no idea about gambling protocol and was laughing, falling asleep or counting my chips obsessively. I kept announcing "I love gambling!" with ebullient earnestness. The fact that I am flossing about my win jinxes me ever winning again. Though I will not for sure until the rematch later this week, when I head back out to the East and rejoin the tour.