My plane to California somehow arrived an hour earlier than it was supposed to on Saturday night. A nice surprise, but I was kind of frustrated to learn about it, because why now? Why not always? I've been having the most wonderful trip home. I guess I can call it a vacation, I've been doing nothing but eating and sleeping, it's great. I spent the last week, maybe the last month in New York, in a pretty bad way. Eating nothing but junk food (even that, not enough). Drinking a lot of booze. Feeling just really shitty. I feel better for being able to sleep. And it's gorgeous here in sleepy Alameda.
I hung out with Cotton and Sam and James Brooks the other day. Cotton and his beau have skipped town for the holiday, so we only had one precious day together to catch up. It was so sweet. He's living in Berkeley now, and we hung out there, walked around Telegraph, then met up with miss Sam and headed into the city to visit James, where he's house sitting a very lovely bad in the upper Castro. Quite fancy. I begged off early as I always do, being super duper tired. I've been seeing my little brother and my aunt and my parents. I've still yet to catch up with Grey, which I'm supposed to do tomorrow, and today I'm going to meet up with Miss Jiddy No-No. I'm having a fantastic but not the most exciting time. I wonder, maybe this is exciting. Let me back up.
My good friend Cotton has the best taste in music and always knows the best and coolest stuff before anyone else. He's definitely been the biggest influence on my taste in my whole life. My friendship with him. There are, I'm sure, a few things I discovered before he did (or, like, got into) but I can't think of any. He taught my everything. I feel like Kathleen Hanna in that recent interview with Rolling Stone where she says about Tobi Vail where she says: "She taught me everything I know about music. She put me on the road of what records to get." It's kind of hard or counter intuitive (for me) to give the credit to other people, since I so often feel ripped off myself. So, I'm just saying: I feel like I totally rip off Cotton so hard. He seems pretty gracious about it, more gracious than I would be. I could write a whole book on how much he's influenced me. Hanging out in Berkeley, he showed me some music videos I hadn't seen, which are now obviously my new obsessions:
Madame X's "Just That Type of Girl":
Which, I feel like, is a sort of premonition of the Spice Girls' "Say You'll Be There" video. right?
Also this gem:
Gorgeous, right? We had gone record shopping in Berkeley. I'm looking for Taja Sevelle's first two albums, and 12"s (I guess Cotton didn't know who Taja was, so that was something). I didn't find anything. I guess we were talking about Prince protégés, which lead us to Madame X. Cotton found some stuff though, a copy of Evelyn "Champagne" King's 9th album, Flirt, and showed us this video from it:
I mean. So wonderful to have a friend who knows this stuff. I was going to write a best of 2013 list, but I think it's mostly an exercise in not wanting to die. Like a private thing. I had thought: "OK my life sucks, nothing happened this year, nothing good. Just me wasting more time, getting older and stupider. Feeling bad." But then I made a list of things that happened or that I did that were good, and there were a lot! I had some really great moments in 2013, so that's a nice thought. i still might do it, but it just takes so long to type everything out.
That's the thing about writing. It's like cooking. It's not hard, it just takes a lot of time (as much time as it takes). And that is the part that's hard.
So a Best of 2013 might come out. But no one reads this thing (and why should they). I sort of hate and sort of love being outside of New York, reading about all the fun things happening online. All these exciting things that make me ache to be there. But you know, the things I'm thinking of, aren't even about me. Brian finally released some music; he has a great voice, obviously hugely destined for star material. A cute boy posted naked pictures of himself posing with a laser disc(?), people all had fun at Christmas. Someone's new single is out. Another web series is wrapping and needs your support. You know. These things-- even when I'm in New York, they still make me feel left out. They're not about something happening or being left out. I'm just noticing.
Oh, god! I went to go see Brontez' band The Younger Lovers the other night, at this club called Eli's Mile High Club in West Oakland. It was so weird. Beyond a dive bar. It looked like maybe it used to be a garage. I ran into Brontez in the back patio. A youngish girl who worked as a nurse was bumming cigarettes to a drunk crust punk behind me, talking about how much she hated her job but loved her patients. Someone was smoking weed, and she asked if it was legal, to just do that, smoke weed outdoors like that. It's California. I don't know what's legal. They have these weird laws here in California which we do not have in New York.
TWO LAWS I NOTICED IN CALIFORNIA:
- They charge $0.10 for a shopping bag when you're at a store. They finish your transaction at the cashier with "And would you like a bag for ten cents?" I think the idea is you're supposed to say "No!" but for me, being offered at the last second like that, I totally end up buying a bag.
- Spare the Air Days! What the fuck. I guess this is a smog warning? But nobody calls it smog up here, they call it "Haze". It's smog. It reminds me of Los Angeles in the early 90s, when I grew up knowing that you couldn't play outdoors all day. Or, you could, but your chest would hurt at the end of the day. And you could see a yellow-brown cloud hanging over the city, like a bruise. I saw one over Oakland when I woke up on Sunday. It's great. To be honest, I like smog. Or "haze". That's so Bay Area! So on Spare the Air days, you're supposed to limit your outdoor activity, and you can't barbecue or burn any fires, even in your fireplace, even on Christmas Eve. Walking around Alameda, I sniffed many a violator, in flagrant disregard for the law, seemingly unafraid of the threat of a citation.
So the place where the show was, Eli's Mile High Club. The bartender put five or six colored straws in each cocktail. Which I thought was dumb but then I understood the logic after I accidentally drank three. Also everybody there had a dog, it seemed. One crust punk brought his big ugly wolf-thing. A rockabilly guy with a potbelly and bald head had two little tiny dogs on leashes. Assorted other punk and rock and roll dogs running around unmuzzled. It was weird. The space was filled with balloons. The power kept going out, and people kept looking out the windows to make sure it was just the building, and that the streetlights were still on (this would never have occurred to me). The bartender kept flipping the circuit breakers to turn the lights back on. It was cute.
Brontez' performance was PERFECT. And so exciting. I want to hear their new record when it comes out. he didn't have any copies at the show but said he did at his house. But I haven't been to his house yet. He said he might be moving soon?
Apparently, Eli's Mile High Club used to be a blues club. Brontez said his grandmother's relative used to play here in the 1960s. A photo of their display at the club:
I got some great presents for Christmas. I got new running shoes, a MIDI keyboard, the new Aimee Bender book, the Anjelica Huston memoir. And also! some holiday money. I might buy some cologne. Is that dumb?
When we got to the Castro to meet up with James, we all talked about how we're all going through our Saturn Returns. How it's also Venus Retrograde. I said: "That's my thing, this is my advice to younger people: DON'T GET TOO EXCITED. Get ready for everything to be horrible." They laughed. I guess I was half joking. My thing is about embracing the inner chaos. Or, embracing the chaos around us.
Because I think you can make friends with the chaos. Seduce it.
I've been trying to tell y'all. I guess it's a thing of, like, in that Marina Abramovic piece, waiting for someone to come drag you out of the fire. Not even really. Nonono, not a daredevil thing. Just a thing of being vulnerable. Being culpable. Being wrong. I think you can seduce the chaos, but maybe that's wrong. And I'm trying to make being wrong about that (maybe) okay with myself. But I guess you still have to choose.
So whatever-- my friends who are also going through it are experiencing it differently. But I feel like we're all talking about the same thing, just using different references? Is that fair. Sam was talking about more structure, more security. And I'm like: "I want it too because it is a lie!"
It occurs to me that Christmas is celebrating the miracle of hope. Of optimism. What a nice thought. Was texting with an ex I don't particularly get along with. Just to say how much we like each other. Just to remember things a little bit differently.
I guess it's just a thing of going through it, through everything.