Ball and Chain

I don't understand how come you're gone, man. I don't understand why half the world is still crying, man, when the other half of the world is still crying too, man, I can't get it together. I mean, if you got a cat for one day, man — I mean, if you, say, say, if you want a cat for 365 days, right — You ain't got him for 365 days, you got him for one day, man. Well I tell you that one day, man, better be your life, man. Because, you know, you can say, oh man, you can cry about the other 364, man, but you're gonna lose that one day, man, and that's all you've got.

You gotta call that love, man. That's what it is, man.

If you got it today you don't want it tomorrow, man, 'cause you don't need it, 'cause as a matter of fact, as we discovered in the train, tomorrow never happens, man.

It's all the same fucking day, man.


Possible Week

Pretty amazed by the impossibility of this week. I start my new job on Wednesday. It's part-time, mornings only, and for the next few weeks I have something of a freelance job in the afternoons. This is me more or less taking the plunge, abandoning the financial security of corporate work. Thrilling. It's worth a show until I run out of money and have to start temping again. I sort of want to work retail in the afternoons.

Yesterday I went to the gym in the morning, and had the distinct pleasure of riding the L-train during rush hour when I wasn't really in a rush. I ran into my friend on the train who made fun of me, saying "Oh, on your way to work? As a gymbunny?" Which kind of makes sense. I felt very indulgent and vindicated. 'Well, sometimes I use my body to make money, and in order to feel good doing that i need to spend a little bit of time exercising. So going to the gym is work for me, okay?' Resist Psychic Death Jigsaw Youth.

Began working on my first new song in years. Feeling excited. Writing some ukulele songs. Playing at Sugarland on Wednesday night. I have a lot of people to get back in touch with and a lot of appointments to keep. I'm more than a little apprehensive as to whether or not I can make this work, but I'm hopeful.

Feel a little nasty at certain aspects of my situation.
On being nasty:



Let's Trade Mix CDs

I want to listen to new music.

Are we MySpace friends that have never met in real life? Or don't really know each other that well? Maybe we know each other and you want to show me what you're listening to. Maybe you're reading this and we went to college together and have been out of touch.

I've made a really fabulous autumn mix CD. Let's trade. I think this will be fun! Write: billycheer@gmail.com

Watch It, Tiger


Strings, Box, Bodies, Drums

Thinking today about musical instruments and how they approximate the human body. Guitars and violins and harps and bass amplifiers, all churning out simulacra of a heartbeat. It's autumn, I'm booking shows for my band, I'm trying to write songs and forgetting how involved, difficult, rewarding, and complicated it is. I forget that I need to actually figure out the shape of the feeling before I can sing it. Or dance it, really. I keep my windows open when I go to bed at night, even though it makes the mornings unbearably cold. I take long walks on my way to work, listening to Susan Ploetz' songs. Verdi's songs. Matt Elkin's songs. Beyoncé's songs, for inspiration.

I feel romantic.
I don't get spring fever. The summer holds no particular erotic allure for me either. I couldn't care less about human contact when it's hot. The autumn though. Makes me want to build things, nest, share. Make out.

I have an embarrassing crush on that MisShape boy, and a more embarrassing crush on an intern at the office where I'm temping. One of the precious few things that make corporate hell at least interesting is the intern pool. Specifically, the shoes thereof. I don't know what these girls are supposed to be doing, but what they are actually doing is blowing my fucking mind with these insane high-fashion get-ups and elaborate, impractical, and undoubtedly painful footwear. Imagine a swarm of perfectly coiffed NYU co-eds carrying empty manila folders, teetering around the office in $400 Marc Jacobs stilettos. I, for one, appreciate the effort, girls.

One intern, whom I suspect is the only boy, is pretty cute. At least, I think he's an intern, I sort of just noticed him around the time the rest of the interns showed up. I have an elaborate fantasy in which he is not 19, but 24 (he took a couple years off of school because he got a Fullbright to study experimental writing in Osaka). I manage to make up excuses to walk by his cubicle throughout the day. This morning when I passed him on my way to the mail room he stared at me while eating a banana. Adjusted his posture and rolled his eyes like he wasn't just checking me out.

My feelings are best summed up with the following video, for "You" by Lloyd. Jennifer and I stayed in on Saturday night and watched him perform this song live on 'Showtime at the Apollo'. I generally love top 40 pop songs anyway, but something about this song, including the Spandau Ballet bit, is just gorgeous. Clean, and sad, and pretty.

All Girls Together

I found, finally, the holy grail of Kathy Acker writing. Published just before her death in 1997, the infamous "Spice Girls" piece. Enjoy.

ALL GIRLS TOGETHER; The Spice Girls are the biggest, brashest girlie group ever to have hit the British mainstream. Kathy Acker is an avant-garde American writer and academic. They met up in New York to swap notes - on boys, girls, politics. And what they really, really want.

Fifty-second street. West Side, New York City. Hell's Kitchen - one of those areas into which no one would once have walked unless loaded. Guns or drugs or both. But now it has been gentrified: the beautiful people have won. A man in middle-aged-rocker uniform, tight black jeans and nondescript T-shirt, lets Nigel, the photographer, and me through the studio doorway; then a chipmunk-sort-of-guy in shorts, with a Buddha tattooed on one of his arms, greets us warmly. This is Muff, the band's publicity officer. We're about to meet the Girls . . .

They are here to rehearse for an appearance on Saturday Night Live. Not only is this their first live TV performance, it's also the first time they'll be playing with what Mel C calls a 'real band'. If the Girls are to have any longevity in the music industry, they will have to break into the American market; and for this they will need the American media. Both the Girls and their record company believe that their appearance here tonight might do the trick. There is a refusal among America's music critics to take the Spice Girls seriously. The Rolling Stone review of Spice, their first album, refers to them as 'attractive young things . . . brought together by a manager with a marketing concept'. The main complaint, or explanation for disregard, is that they are a 'manufactured band'. What can this mean in a society of McDonald's, Coca-Cola and En Vogue? However, an e-mail from a Spice fan mentions that, even though he loves the girls, he detects a 'couple of stereotypes surrounding women in the band's general image. The brunette is the woman every man wants to date. Perfect for an adventure on a midnight train, or to hire as your mistress-secretary. The blonde is the woman you take home to mother, whereas the redhead is the wild woman, the woman-with-lots-of -evil-powers.' So who are these Girls? And how political is their notorious 'Girl Power'?

Even though I have seen many of their videos and photos, as soon as I'm in front of these women, I am struck by how they look far more remarkable than I had expected, even though Mel C is trying not to look as lovely as she is. I had intended to say something else, but instead I find myself asking them: 'If paradise existed, what would it look like?' Geri speaks first, and she is, I think, reprimanding me for being idealistic. 'Money makes the world what it is today,' she says, almost before I have time to think about my sudden outburst, 'a world infested with evil. All sorts of wars are going on at the moment. Everyone's kind of bickering, wanting to better themselves because their next -door neighbour's got a better lawn. That kind of thing.'
'Greed,' Victoria adds.

Mel C: 'Instead of trying to be better than someone else, you have to try to better yourself.'
In a few minutes, they are explaining to me that the Spice Girls is a type of paradise, Spice Girls is a lifestyle. 'It's community.' That's Geri again. She and Mel B - one in a funky, antique Hawaiian shirt, the other in diaphanous yellow bell- bottoms and top - do most of the talking. Mel C, in her gym clothes, is the quietest. Geri: 'We're a community in which each one of us shines individually, without making any of the others feel insecure. We liberate each other. A community should be liberating. Nelson Mandela said that you know when someone is brilliant when having that person next to you makes you feel good.''Not envious,' adds her cohort, Mel B. These are the two baddest Girls. At least on the surface. I suspect otherwise. 'It inspires you.' Geri again. 'That is what life's about. People should be inspiring.'

I can't keep up with these Girls. My generation, spoon-fed Marx and Hegel, thought we could change the world by altering what was out there - the political and economic configurations, all that seemed to make history. Emotions and personal - especially sexual - relationships were for girls, because girls were unimportant. Feminism changed this landscape; in England, the advent of Margaret Thatcher, sad to say, changed it more. The individual self became more important than the world.

To my generation, this signals the rise of selfishness; for the generation of the Spice Girls, self-consideration and self-analysis are political. When the Spices say, 'We're five completely separate people,' they're talking politically. 'Like when you're in a relationship,' Mel B takes over, 'and you're in love, you feel you're only you when you're with that person, so when you leave that person, you think 'I'm not me'. That's so wrong. It's downhill from then on, in yourself spiritually and in your whole environment. In this band, it's different. Each of us is just the way we are, and each of us respects that.'

'As Melanie says,' adds Geri, 'each of us wants to be her own person and, without snatching anyone else's energy, bring something creative and new and individual to the group. We're proof this is happening. When the Spice Girls first started as a unit, we respected the qualities we found in each other that we didn't have in ourselves. It was like, 'Wow! That's the Spicey life vibey thing, isn't it?'

Geri turns even more paradoxical: 'Normally, when you get fans of groups, they want to act like you, they copy what you're wearing, for instance. Whereas our fans, they might have pigtails and they might wear sweatclothes, but they are so individual, it's unbelievable. When you speak to them, they've got so much balls! It's like we've collected a whole group of our people together! It's really, really mad. I can remember someone coming up to us and going, 'Do you know what? I've just finished with my boyfriend! And you've given me the incentive to go 'Fuck this!'
At this, the Spices cheer.Giving up any hope of narrative continuity, I ask the girls if they want boys. 'Some of us are in relationships.' Mel B. 'I live with my boyfriend. For three years now, yeah.'

I tell them that I've never been good at balancing sexual love and work.'Of course you can. It doesn't make me a lesser person; to be in a relationship makes me a better person. Because I can still go out and . . . flirting is natural.' I'm listening to Mel B, but all I can think, at the moment, is how beautiful she is. 'I can stay out all night and come in when I want. Your whole life doesn't have to change just because you're with somebody else.''It depends on the individual,' says Geri.'I think whoever we would chose to be with should respect the way we are . . . and our job as well . . .' Mel B. 'The way we are together. None of us would be interested in a man that wanted to dominate, wanted to pull you down, and wanted you to do what he wanted you to do.'

I wonder what man could handle all this.'If one of us was to go out with a dweeb of a man,' says Mel B, 'he would probably feel threatened by the five of us. Because we do share things about our relationships, so it's like a gang. Like a gang, but we're not. We can have relationships, but they have to be on a completely different level.'

Emma talks only about her mother, and Mel C is very quiet. What hides, I wonder, behind that face, which appears more delicate and intense than in her photos? Victoria, I learn later, is upset about an ex-boyfriend's betrayal of her confidence; throughout our discussion she looks slightly upset. Several times she says that, above all, she wants privacy. Perhaps paradise is not as simple as it seems.

I know that, to find out more about these Girls, I must change the subject, but instead, I just blurt out: 'Let's stop talking about boys!'
'Yeah,' agree the Girls.

Do they think the Spice Girls will go on forever? And if not, what will they do after it ends? What do you really want to do? 'We talked about that the other day, didn't we?' Geri, sitting on the floor, turns around to the three girls sprawled on a black sofa. Emma, in a white from-the-Sixties dress, perches on a high chair. Their hair has been done, their faces powdered, and they're ready for the photo.'I want to own restaurants,' Victoria takes the lead. She wears a skin-tight designer outfit, perfectly positioned Wonderbra and heels seemingly too high to walk on. Unlike the other girls, she never lets her mask break open.'The entrepreneur,' remarks Mel B fondly.'Restaurants and art,' Victoria continues. 'I've always liked art. Ever since I was . . .' She pauses. 'And I'd like a nice big house, and to fill it with, you know . . .'
'Sculptures!' Mel B.
'Nude men.' That's Mel C.
All the girls are laughing. Victoria admits - and her emotions finally start to show - that's she's always fancied doing art. A few years ago, she and Geri were going to return to college, but they didn't have the time. Now the others are teasing her about her shoes.

I like these girls. I like being with them.
'I don't know what I want to do.' Mel C.The Spices who haven't yet said anything are now talking. 'At the moment I am completely into what I'm doing, and I find it hard to think, right now, what I want to do later on.' Mel B.
'I want a big family, like the Waltons,' Emma admits. 'I like taking care of people, I love kids.' 'You can look after mine.' Mel C.

Everyone's saying something. Victoria wants to live with her sister, and maybe her brother; Emma's thinking of her mother. I'm beginning to realise how different from each other the Girls are. Mel C says she likes living alone, but wishes she were geographically closer to her family.
'Me and Geri,' pipes up Mel B, who's rarely silent for more than a minute, 'come from up north. It's like living in a little community, isn't it? And moving down into London, it's like moving into the big wild world. I don't even know my next-door neighbour, do you?'
'No,' answers Mel C.

I like these girls. They're home girls.

'I'd be in a cult, or join a naturist camp or something, and just live there, like back in the Sixties in the hippy days,' Mel B is gesticulating, 'where everything's just One Love, everything's free, and there are no set rules, where nobody judges you…'

Geri tells me that she is a jack-of-all-trades. After speculating whether she might do her own TV show, or go into films, write a movie script, she announces that her model is Sylvester Stallone.

I think of Brigitte Nielsen. 'I'll tell you why.' He couldn't get a part in Hollywood, she explains, so he wrote, directed and produced Rambo himself. 'I just think that's what it takes; I always love it when the underdog comes through.'

The Girls have been in show business for years. Emma started when she was three. All of the others were professional by the age of 17 or 18. I'm beginning to understand why these Girls have been picked, consciously or unconsciously, by their generation to represent that generation. Especially, but not only, the female sector. In a society still dominated by class and sexism, very few of those not born to rule, women especially, are able to make choices about their own work and lifestyle. Very few know freedom. None of the Spices, not even Victoria, was born privileged nor, as they themselves note, are they traditional beauties. Christine, a student of mine, watching them on Saturday Night Live, remarked to me: 'They're not even slick dancers or exceptional singers! They're just the girl-next -door!'

And they are; they're just girls; as more than one of them remarked to me, 'We never really had a chance until this happened!' They're the girls never heard from before this in England; look, there are lots of them; ones who've known Thatcherite, post-Thatcherite society and nothing else, and now, thanks to the glory and the strangeness of British rock-pop society, they've found a voice. Listen to the voices of those who didn't go to Oxford or Cambridge, or even to Sussex or to art school…

Geri: 'I didn't really know that much, you know, history, but I knew about the suffragettes. They fought. It wasn't that long ago. They died to get a vote. The women's vote. Bloody ass-fucking mad, do you know what I mean? You remember that and you think, fucking hell. But to get back to what Victoria was saying about us, that we never got anywhere, you know, the underdog thing. This is why I feel so passionate. We've been told, time and time again, you're not pretty enough, you're too fat, you're too thin . . .'

All the Spice Girls are now roaring.'. . . You're not tall enough, you're not white, you're not black. What I passionately feel is that it is so wrong to have to fit into a role or a mould in order to succeed. What I think is fan-fucking- tastic about us now is that we are not perfect and we have made a big success of ourselves. I'm swelling with pride.'But you are babes.They all protest.
'We were all individually beaten down . . . Collectively, we've got something going,' says Geri. 'Individually, I don't think we'd be that great.' 'There's a chemistry that runs through us and gives us . . . where I'm bad at something, Melanie's good, or Geri's good at something at which the rest of us are bad,' says Victoria.

Look, I say, I'm feeling stranger and stranger about these politics based on individualism. There are lots of girls who have the same backgrounds as they do, right? 'Right.'

So what is holding those girls down? Keeping them from doing what they really want to do? They start to discuss this. I can hardly make out who's saying what in the ensuing commotion. I hear 'society and conditioning'; another one, Emma perhaps, is talking about being in showbiz, receiving job rejection after job rejection; she's saying how strong you have to be to keep bouncing back. Geri mentions Freud, then states that parents' beliefs often hold back a child, parents and then the child's reception in her school.

'When you go and see a careers officer,' ponders Mel C, 'and you sit down and say, 'I want to be a spaceman', instead of responding 'Go study astrophysics', they go, 'Yeah, but what do you really want to do?' That is so wrong. I think there should be a class in - what do you call it? - self-motivation. Self-motivation classes, self-esteem classes.'

I still feel that a bit of economic realism is missing here, but I can't get a word in edgewise. Not in all the girl excitement. These females are angry.

'I think it all goes back to everyone wanting to feel that they're part of an ongoing society,' Geri tries to analyse. 'The humdrum nine-to-five, you know what it's like . . . What do you do when you leave school? You go and get a job to have money to pay off the mortgage, you get a flat and have a nice boyfriend, pay off your bills, you go to work with your briefcase and your suit, and that's it. That's people's normal, everyday thing, isn't it? And if you branch out from that, it's . . . well, what does she think she's doing? It's going against the grain a bit - which not many people do. It's not even going against the grain; it's just clinging on to the bit you want to do and thinking I'm going to do it, who cares?'

The Girls, including Geri, tell me that they've got an American philosophy, an American dream. 'But me,' says Mel B, 'before I was in the band, I thought I'd like to be a preacher. I still do. Something like that. They've actually got this place in London which is called Speaker's Corner. You get up on your stand there; you can speak about anything. I'd like to speak about people, the emotional or mental blocks people have, especially regarding other people, things like that. That's what the tattoo on my stomach means, 'Spirit Heart And Mind', because that's what fuels me; communication fuels me. You learn about yourself, about other people and life in general, through communication.' She says that's she's been writing since she was 11, writing everything down, 'why the world is this shape, what would happen if everyone on earth died . . .' 'Stoned questions . . .' murmurs another Spice.

'I'd love to go back to the Sixties,' Emma says in her clear voice. 'I'd love that. I wouldn't wear headbands though.'

What about some of the politics of the Sixties, I ask. Malcolm X? The fight against racism?
'The other day I watched The Killing Fields.' Now Geri's doing the talking. 'That was in the Sixties, Vietnam. I think it's very healthy that there's an element of that today. Through the media today we can see people demonstrating for human rights. In Cambodia, on the other side of the world. I think it's brilliant when you see people standing up, when they have a voice, it kicks the system, a little bit, into touch.'

But what about in England today? I mention that in the US, racism is still a big issue.
Mel B and Geri start talking about racism. Geri tells me that she's learned about racial prejudice from Mel B, who says, 'The thing I find really bizarre about America and England . . . You say that the racism thing is worse in America, yet if you look at television here (in NYC), they're really scrupulous about making sure, for instance, that they have a black family in an advert. On the adverts in England, you wouldn't find that.'

Suddenly all the Spices are talking among themselves. I can't understand anything. Then we're on the subject of Madonna, of people who have inspired us, and Geri starts speaking about Margaret Thatcher. Why she admires her. 'But we won't go down there!'
'Don't go down there!' advise the Girls.
'We won't go down there, but . . .' and Geri, who never seems to listen to reason, begins. She says that when politicians discuss the economy, they're just talking about shifting money from one spot to another, and someone always suffers. This is the same distrust of government that so many Americans, both on the right and left - and especially among lower and working-class people - are feeling and articulating.

Mel C says softly, 'We talked about suffragettes and getting the vote to women, and all that. But a lot of women don't vote; a lot of our generation doesn't vote. I don't. I don't feel I should because I don't know anything about politics . . .''That was what I was going to say,' adds Emma.
They blame the lack of political education in schools. Whether they like or dislike Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair, they distrust both the political industry and the related media. 'Intellectual people chatting in bathrooms,' comments Mel B.'We are society,' exclaims Geri, 'so really . . .'
‘We should be running it,' Mel B finishes the statement.
'I'd like to run it for a day,' says Victoria, looking directly at me.
'But Victoria, who's going to let you do such a job?' Geri reminds her.
'The only way to go is growth,' says Mel B.

'I think everyone's turned a bit to the spiritual life.' 'You know,' interjects Victoria, 'if you believe in evolution, we only use 20 per cent of our brain . . . if that. So it's natural that we can evolve to the next level. We've got to, really.' 'Nowadays, people do sit down and ask themselves 'Why am I doing this?" Mel B continues. 'They question themselves and what they've got around them. I know I do it, and you find your own little mission. And you fucking go for it. A lot more people are like that now.' Do they all feel like that? There's a general quiet, then a 'Yeah' all around me.
I ask the Spices to describe themselves. For a moment, they're lost for words.Victoria: 'I love what I'm doing. I'm with my five best friends, and I've seen some great countries. I'm happy, I'm very happy. I care a lot about my family. Regarding my personality, I'm private. There are things for me to know and no one else to find out.' She hesitates. 'I just accept the way I am. You have to make the most of it, make the best of yourself. I'm a bit of a fretter. If I'm going to do something, I want to do it properly. I want to do the best I can. I'm a perfectionist.' Emma: 'Me, I'm definitely a bit of a brat. I worry about what other people are feeling, that sort of thing.' Geri: 'I have quite an active mind.Quite eccentric, really. A conversationalist. I believe in fate in a big way, a very big way.’

Mel B: 'I'm always asking inward questions about things. I live off the vibes, I do, that people give me. If I don't like someone then I won't speak to them, even though something might be coming out of their mouth that I should listen to. I like to think I'm a bit of a free spirit. I don't run by any rule book. I live on the edge a little bit. I always think, well, at least I'll die happy today rather than worrying about it tomorrow.' Mel C: 'I'm very regimented. I really enjoy my own company, although I love being with other people.' I'm watching the Spice Girls perform Wannabe on Saturday Night Live, but not seeing them. In my mind, I'm seeing England. When I returned there in July last year, lad culture was in full swing. Loaded was running what had once been a relatively intellectual magazine culture.

Feminism, especially female intellectuals, had become extinct. 'Where have all the women gone to?' I asked. Then came a twist named the Spice Girls. The Spices, though they deny it, are babes - the blonde, the redhead, the dark sultry fashion model - and they're more. They both are and represent a voice that has too long been repressed. The voices, not really the voice, of young women and, just as important, of women not from the educated classes.

It isn't only the lads sitting behind babe culture, bless them, who think that babes or beautiful lower and lower-middle class girls are dumb. It's also educated women who look down on girls like the Spice Girls, who think that because, for instance, girls like the Spice Girls take their clothes off, there can't be anything 'up there'.

The Spice Girls are having their cake and eating it. They have the popularity and the popular ear that an intellectual, certainly a female intellectual, almost never has in this society, and, what's more, they have found themselves, perhaps by fluke, in the position of social and political articulation. It little matters now how the Spice Girls started - if they were a 'manufactured band'.

What does this have to do with feminism? When I lived in England in the Eighties, a multitude of women, diverse and all intellectual, were continually heard from - people such as Michele Roberts, Jeanette Winterson, Sara Maitland, Jacqueline Rose, Melissa Benn. Is it also possible that the English feminism of the Eighties might have shared certain problems with the American feminism of the Seventies? English feminism, as I remember it back then, was anti-sex. And like their American counte rparts, the English feminists were intellectuals, from the educated classes. There lurked the problem of elitism, and thus class.

I am speculating, but, perhaps due to Margaret Thatcher - though it is hard to attribute anything decent to her - a populist change has taken place in England. The Spice Girls, and girls like them, and the girls who like them, resemble their American counterparts in two ways: they are sexually curious, certainly pro-sex, and they do not feel that they are stupid or that they should not be heard because they did not attend the right universities.

If any of this speculation is valid, then it is up to feminism to grow, to take on what the Spice Girls, and women like them, are saying, and to do what feminism has always done in England, to keep on transforming society as society is best transformed, with lightness and in joy.

Por Bobo

abodago, bobo


To Wake Up

Wednesday night I worked as a cocktail water / go-go boy. Will write about my glamorous life much later. Something else, I don't know what, kept me from sleeping at all the rest of Wednesday night, so, being nocturnal, I took yesterday off of work and sort of milled about in a haze. Now, after sleeping for 11 hours thanks to Sister Pico's Trazodone, I've re-joined the world of the living.

'In the middle of the dark wood, in order to avoid suicide, I gave myself over to temporary death, or sleep. There are times when we who aren't loved must do this. There are times when we who aren't loved must be celibate and frigid. The realms of dreams are that of death because the dreamer doesn't expect' the night mused. 'The dreamer knows what is happening and the world.

Dreams which resemble death heal the wounds from living.'

I have a great deal to say on the subject of Kathy Acker. Specifically, on the lesson she teaches us about love: to love something or someone is to claim, affirm, celebrate this object of our affection while simultaneously defaming, sullying, and destroying it. But that is to say that everyone realizes our capacity to love, and of course, not everyone does realize this capacity. I know I don't. I don't pay a lot of money for psychotherapy, but I could conceivably skip it altogether if I just listened more closely to some of Kathy Acker's more nuanced passages. Elsewhere, again in Don Quixote:

'You are so autistic, you don't know when humans're laughing at you and you always think humans're laughing at you. Since everyone must despise you; love, being impossible, is an obsession. Whatever your love's recipient happens to feel for you, since you're autistic, doesn't influence your belief that you're not worthy. Therefore, night, you always need love with desperate animalism and you can't actually love, that is clearly perceive your love's recipient.'


Liked High Places

I love the fall. You know, back to school. Starting, ending jobs. Worrying about romance again. Generally getting back to work. Summer can be traumatic. We've got to heal our sunburns.

And to make everything easier, PJ Harvey releases a new album.

It's getting to the point where PJ Harvey's influence has come full circle. Her recordings now sound like the generations of musicians who've followed in her wake. At various times the record smacks of Joanna Newsom, and the opening moments of the first track "The Devil" are nearly identical to Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black" (a very clever DJ will mash these two up). It's a really fucking gorgeous record. It doesn't sound like anything else she's done, though that's not much of a surprise. Harvey sings almost entirely in her narcotic upper register, awash in reverb, and almost exclusively plays the piano.

Like many gay men of my generation, I totally and utterly revere Polly Jean Harvey. Each of her records has a special significance for me. My first album was 4-Track Demos, which I listened to in headphones the summer before starting high school. Dry I listened to at 16, the first time I got dumped. I brought only Rid of Me with me when I went on a vacation to North Carolina's outer banks one summer, and listened to it on the beach, scorching. During my junior year of high school I remember making a mix tape of To Bring You My Love for my best friend, it felt a lot like the Wiccan rituals we had done when we were in the seventh grade. Once, on a date, I bought Is This Desire? and played it for the boy and I in his car. He hated it because it was 'techno', I loved it because it felt really mean. And I remember flying across the country to go to college, listening to Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea and thinking about how much I would miss cold California fog, and how ready I was to get sexy. I bought Uh Huh Her the day it came out, just before my junior year of college, but the boy I was sleeping with at the time told me it was his favorite album and I didn't get along with him, so it ruined it for me.

This one, however, is pretty great. It makes me want to dye my hair.


Hustler Goes To Market

and INot sure what to make of today's partial solar eclipse. They're tricky. Pets die. People get job offers. Your girlfriend tells you she wants to make out with the boy she works with at the stationary store. As you walk home from your therapist, you realize that's okay. Of course, these things happen all the time. Dogs will always get cancer, your girlfriend will never be happy with the way you kissed her, and life as a temp is always prone to this kind of fluctuation. The eclipse makes me think of these as specifically significant, some reverberations of the lunar eclipse a few weeks ago. These kind of things aren't even really beginnings or endings, really. Just sort of transitions, I guess. Which I hate. I have a difficult time adjusting to even the most minute, gentle changes. Susan Miller, my favorite astrologer, thinks this eclipse will bring some kind of employment news. I'm excited about her appearance this Saturday at the Apple Store.

Still recovering from the weekend. On Friday night, I went out with the Soft Butch crew. Cassandra has a new job at a bar so we went to visit her. We bounced around the East Village trying to get people to dance in bars but they were shy. Cassandra found Shoshoni, Jennifer and I smoking in a bathroom. Disco nights.
Met up with Pico and Steven V. at Ruff Club, where we had our picture taken.

Saturday, Cuddles and I went out in the East Village. I felt like an explorer. The next day, walking to the train through Tompkins Square Park in my Sunday morning finery (smeared leftover Saturday night club outfit), I felt really conspicuous. For some reason, buying eggplants at the farmer's market seemed to fix this. Rather than 'hustler' I looked like I had a purpose. Hustler goes to market. There are layers to these kinds of drag. My Soft Butch nickname is Mapplethorpe. Think on that. Feeling particularly inspired, but not yet active. Haven't committed these phrases to songs, yet. Working on a new rock-opera / performance piece. It's going to be called Ferocious, and it's about my imaginary ex-boyfriend Scott Panther. Rather, Scott The Panther. You'll see.

Monday morning found this anonymous description of me on the Internet:

"I'd hit him from the back. I mean, I'd have to double-bag it, but whatevs.
Even if his music's boring, he still looks like he's got an ass I should tap
before it collapses. Probably screams like a white lady in bed though."

My buddy Steven V. notes that this means my ass is like:

a) sub prime mortgages
b) a mine in Utah
c) a bridge in Minnesota

Confessions of a Namer


The Ease Of Our Big Wet Hearts

  • Chinese mustard
  • Green glitter
  • Our cats: Ilya, Quin, and Video
  • Late-night processing sessions with the Soft Butches
  • Mangoes
  • Astrology lessions
  • Downtown performance art pieces, emerging artists
  • Punk girls, goth girls, geeky girls
  • Old Casio Keyboards
  • Discounted therapy sessions
  • Romance: love notes
  • Jealousy; it's attendant panic, fear, sadness and triumph
  • Dance clubs, night clubs
  • Lorazepam
  • Purple
  • Jasmine incense
  • Being cruel, aloof, and mean to the boys who try to date me
  • Stolen teal sweaters
  • Impending visits from San Francisco Witches
  • Writing songs about: my heart, robots, fucking, voodoo, horseback riding, North Carolina
  • Fiber optics
  • New spaces!
  • Voodoo oil
  • Big, thick, Jon Fluevog shoes
  • Cheap vodka and diet mountain dew
  • Cocteau Twins remixes

this why autumn is the best. also, you can comment on the posts now.



I keep getting in trouble with straight people my straight friends because I complain about straight boy bullshit and dude bro lifestyle assholes. Whenever I complain that a party or band or scene is exclusive and homophobic and boring and violent, competitive, aggressive I get yelled at because I’m being a killjoy (actually I also get yelled at because I’m gay and no one wants the gay person in the room to ever say anything because then you can’t ignore the us, we're often tolerated only if we're silent). But for now I’ll say that the reason I keep getting yelled at is because I’m being too vague when I complain about certain straight boy behaviors that are marginalizing, oppressive, and unproductive.

Something that sort of clarifies my point is Ferris Bueller from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Basically, I hate Ferris and I have always hated Ferris and even as a kid watching the movie, which is endlessly rerun on television, it makes me feel pretty pissed. The only useful parts of that movie are the older sister, because watch how she’s the bad guy for SHOWING UP, and the brief glimpse of Matthew Broderick masturbating in the shower during the monologue at the beginning. Those are the only interesting or useful parts, the rest of it makes me want to kill myself. Or, rather, kill the dudes I went to school with and now live across the street from.

Ferris illustrates for us how rewarding it is to be selfish, aggressive, conniving, dishonest, competitive, narcissistic and stupid. These are maybe some of the worst aspects of maleness and it makes me sick> makes me want to fag out even more, but I’d probably get beat up for walking around. Probably get beat up by boys like Ferris.

So, I’m obviously not on the side of the principal or even the parents. I’m not going to defend the institutions of the 1980s white suburban utopia. I don’t even think Ferris is fighting these things, really. It’s not about him not wanting to go to school or thinking school is particularly dumb or anything. Even though he cuts class, Ferris totally supports the institutions because he knows that it is his / my / our birthright to become the institution, this is how boys like Ferris are going to make their first million. Rather, Ferris disregards the institution only in deference to his own pleasure. He hasn’t even planned a good day or anything, he just knows, has some kind of boy-star intuition that his pleasure, his leisure is more important than anything else in the world. The message is: if I can get away with it, then I deserve it. He gets his best friend Cameron in trouble because he wants to have fun. I feel bad for his girlfriend. POP QUIZ: What’s her name? How’s she doing? Oh, as long as she’s present for Ferris to enact his weird fantasies on, it’s all good. She's only present enough for him to occasionally make out with. Whatever. If I knew his girlfriend in high school I would have told her: “Ferris or me!". Maybe she would have chosen Ferris and would have missed out on being friends with me, I guess.

I feel most bad for his sister who, like I said, is sort of just doing her job, being a killjoy the way girls / older siblings / gay people always are. His sister is punished because like me, she refuses to find him funny. She’s punished for being excluded from Ferris’ pleasure. She is one of two people in the whole movie who do not directly, enthusiastically affirm Ferris and his leisure / pleasure. The other is the principal, and both are punished. He offers an ultimatum: the fun being had is Ferris’ fun; either you can accept and vicariously support / experience Ferris’ boy fantasy or you can shut up and get beaten up. We have to play by the rules because when we break them the punishment is twice as hard. When Ferris beats us for skipping school, he leaves a mark.

Witch Tactic

I've been taking too-strong medicine. Far outweighing the severity of my situation. Trying another tack. Witch Tactics. Hippie Lore. Magickal Thinking, babe. Vibrational Therapy.

Four drops, four times a day.

...and it's working



Saturn has been in Leo since July of 2005. I found this out some time last spring. This is perhaps the biggest piece "evidence" with which I justify my new found astrology obsession. In July of 2005 I was more or less 'peaking'. I was living away from my family and school for the first time, getting laid, playing shows, scrambling and loving it. I felt pretty close to some kind of actualized identity. I smoked a pack and a half of Virginia Slims a day, felt and looked fabulous. Shortly after Saturn going into Leo, I returned to college for my senior year. Terribly confused about how to reconcile the madcap NYC life I had with "the future". Within the span of a few brief months, everything truly awful that has ever happened to me happened. No juicy details, but I was dumped, had a stalker, and found out about the sudden death of a very close friend. In January I had a freaky illness that involved me almost missing part of my senior year of college and quitting smoking. I made it out okay, but terribly bewildered, and have spent the last two years without any idea what I should be doing. So, now, after this weekend it's gone. I feel a little lighter. From my September horoscope, via Susan Miller:

"On September 2, you will see the end of Saturn in Leo. Ever since Saturn
entered your sign two years ago, during July 2005, Saturn has put you
through cosmic boot camp. Saturn toughened you up and made you more disciplined,
realistic, responsible, and practical. You probably accomplished something big -
you may feel like you've been through a rite of passage - and now you can say
you feel new and much more mature. Saturn often asks for sacrifice, so you may
have had to live a no-frills lifestyle while you worked to establish your bigger
goal. That was a temporary situation and you actually got used to doing so after
a while. Time became much more precious to you, and you learned to use your time
wisely. Now life will improve enormously, and your outlook will become
substantially brighter. You probably felt you had to work very hard in various
areas of your life, but now things will click into place in an easier way. Your
health should feel more robust as well. Saturn won't be back to your sign until
2034, and the lessons you learned over the past two years will carry you at
least that long, if not forever.

Saturn is a self-correcting planet - some people need just a
little advice from Saturn, while other people need a lot. You will get precisely
the right amount of tutoring from this planet, no matter where you started.
Saturn's ultimate job is always to make dreams tangible and real. If you want a
nest egg, start imagining yourself reading your statements while sitting in an
easy chair, feet up, and holding a cup of coffee. In this dream you'll be
smiling because you'll be so happy to see the sums you've amassed! Believe it -
you're on your way!

Dear Leo, compared to what you've come through over the past
two years, the coming two years should be a lot easier. Having Saturn on your
Sun, as you have had until now, is thought to be very hard, because it's the
coming together of the warm, fiery Sun and cold, hard Saturn, quite literally
the joining of fire and ice! You are closing the door on that chapter this
month, thank goodness!"


What's going to happen when Laurie Anderson dies? What will her retrospective be? A gallery show of her installation work? Will her children's book go back into print? What will her legacy be? Most likely a cd-boxed set, maybe with a DVD. There might be a documentary, but probably not for a few years. Further, why was she hailed as a pioneer of Performance Art, and how will her retrospective address this tenuous title? Musical performance with visual projections are not anything new, and weren't new when Anderson mounted her United States opera. Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable utilized much of the same technology, and was consciously not labeled 'Performance Art'. Will "multimedia performance" ever be anything other than performing in front of a projected image? This prompts some other questions for me. What role does/could/should technology have in Performance, and how is it employed there? Can performance utilize technology without this specific language of movie screenings? Granted, Anderson may not be the consummate Performance Artist to base my inquiry on, but she serves as a good entry point. Her genre-defining talk-singing is has been influential across many contemporary practitioners. San Francisco performance artist Pamela Z, whose work uses extensive technology, serves as a wonderful example here. While she is not as concerned with the Andersonian "multimedia" of light shows and visual non-representation, Pamela Z's work draws from the same aesthetic corpus as Anderson (the near-robotic body).

While Performance Art can be seen as drawing from 1970s conceptual and Body Art, technology's emergent collaborative role traces a much different lineage. Technology seems almost irrelevant in the execution of the movement's most seminal pieces. On closer examination, however, this machinery is central. How else but with an elaborate stereo sound system would viewers at the Sonnabend gallery of take part in the "intimate experience" Vito Acconci's 1972 Seedbed? The "cinema" indicted in Valie Export's work is similarly tied to technology. The obvious issue of documentation comes to mind. Many "classic" Performance Art pieces live on in decontextualized photographs, rumors, or gritty films. With her 2005 Seven Easy Pieces, Marina Abramovic reprised some of these classic pieces under the careful watch of video cameras. While Abramovic asks questions of Performance Art practice and the 're-do' on many levels, her performances raise new questions. What does it mean that the definitive documentation of Seedbed is Abramovic's? Technology is and has been present in Performance art from the beginning, and yet it is regarded as either central to the aesthetic (in Anderson's neon and magnetic tape violins) or otherwise merely obliquely functional (as in performance documentation).

As Abramovic and other seminal Performance Artists of the 1970s are either canonized beyond discourse, dying, or working with other mediums, a huge space opens up. Is there, as Abramovic's recent Seven Easy Pieces seems to suggest, a "way" to do performance art? If so, what is that way? And furthermore, what machinery will be necessary to do these performances, and relay them to others? Just what role does technology have in contemporary performance work? While much of Abramovic's 1970s work was performed 'analog', without aid of machinery (even, occasionally and unfortunately, in documentation), her recent performances under the scrutiny of video cameras (digital, no less) changes the pieces themselves. I'm curious about the history of technology's influence in performance. If, as Abramovic seems to imply, we are entering the age of the 're-do', then documentation and technology are paramount to the study and cataloging of performances. If Laurie Anderson's NASA residency can teach us anything, it is that technology can be not only the form, but the subject of performance simply because of its omnipresence.


Looking for James Monahan.

I think that's all I want to say on the matter.


Do you like fur? Do you want to come over?

The feeling, exactly, of recognition. The feeling of my stomach dropping but it's really just the mirror, or something. Oh yeah, September. I forgot. This is how this feels, y'know. There's a whole vocabulary for this.


Ease: Our City

Thought I was being so romantic, last night I started writing love songs for Fag City. For the whole thing, the whole place.

It occurs to me now, on Saturday morning, that it sometimes helps to think long and hard about the points we're trying to make. Whose eye, really, are we trying to catch? I know I've spent so much time lately being sweet and acting seductive, asking about your siblings, telling you all about what is so interesting about my day job.

When, really, I just want to run into the blue-eyed goth guy I keep seeing into at the grocery store. You know? A certain amount of honesty with ourselves. Summer is over, thank god. We can get back to work, start talking to ourselves (these last two months, this summertime was a fight between my ego and me).

It helps to be clear about our own failures and desires (these are the same thing). So I leave my awkward dates at the waterfront, there is no magick in talking about books. Grab myself together, buy fresh vegetables on my way home. And then he does show up, in black jeans and dyed black pompadour haircut, and he buys his fancy cigarettes and his fancy milk. And he sits outside of the grocery store, smoking, at 2am, waiting for me.