Thinking as I always do about that Lisa Germano song "Baby On The Plane" when I'm travelling. "Oh Yeah / Your Eyes / And Tequila / Get Me Through Today". But maybe none of those things get me through today. CONFESSION: Today has barely started. It remains to be seen what will get me through today.
So today is also my last day at my current job. Next week I start work as a part-time arts admin. It's definitely bittersweet at the office today. They're throwing me a pizza party. And then I get on the subway to the bus to the airport to go to California. I'm excited to see my homegirls Cotton, Grey, and Arizona.
Been thinking a lot about the Softies lately.
This Summer (actually probably this Spring, but Summers are easier to count), I will have been queer for ten years. That is staggering. And the Softies were a big part of my being queer, I think.
Ten years ago I went to the first Ladyfest in Olympia, Washington with my mom. I was 15 and it was heaven. I could not keep it together. I didn't know anybody at the festival. My mom would usually go do nature things or visit with friends in Seattle while I went to the shows. And almost exactly ten years ago, I waited in line to see a show at the Capitol Theater. For some reason I was there really early, there was a long line. The show was opened by a really fantastic songwriter named Amy Blashcke. Then it was the Softies, then Cat Power. There might have been other bands that night but if there were then I don't remember. Anyways. I was there by myself and really feeling like the world was suddenly open to me. I was in, finally, Olympia. Everything felt right. But I was very lonely.
In line for the show, I remember Beth Ditto and Sassy Lassy (the Gossip's original fourth member, full-time soft butch backup dancer) sat behind me in line on the sidewalk and chitchatted. I was eating some vegan treat or another and Beth asked what it was (tabouli). She asked SassyLassy what she hoped Cat Power would play, and SassyLassy said that she hoped she'd play really anything off of "Myra Lee". Beth said that Myra is her mother's name. Beth hoped that she'd play "Salty Dog". I was incredibly star-struck by all of this, obviously.
Anyways, Amy Blashcke was incredible. She went on to release two albums and they are both fantastic and it's a shame she wasn't a bigger deal but get into her if you can.
Then the Softies played.
I had never heard them play before, ever. They were just beginning to play shows again after a brief hiatus, and celebrating their return with their new (and final) album "Holiday In Rhode Island" which was for sale that night, ahead of it's release on the legendary K Records. They were incredible. For one thing, they both wore matching pink gingham sundresses and played sparkly guitars and when they set up I noticed that they both plugged into such tiny amplifiers. I quickly realized the practical idea here: they don't have to play over drums, so they don't need huge amps. Rose dedicated a song to her mom. They played a bunch of old songs, I later learned, and some new ones. Their music was really beautiful and sweet and sad (Rose began crying, though didn't falter, while singing "Make Up Your Mind"). They played an oldie, "Alaska", because they saw a girl in the crowd that night who was wearing a t-shirt that said Alaska on it. The girl was in the front row! Everybody cheered. It was very... sweet. Very community and welcoming. And fantastic.
But then they finished and we were all waiting for Cat Power and it was tense. And I overheard someone say, right in front of me, "I thought the Softies were broken up for the longest time, since Winter Pageant came out like four years ago". It was Cotton. I recognized him from various girl-rock shows around the bay area. We did not know each other. He was, by my count, the cutest boy I had ever seen in the whole world. And I felt very conflicted about what that might mean for me to be attracted to other boys. And that was when I first ever heard him talk. And it was pretty magickal.
Anyways. Cotton and I became good friends. We dated for, like, a second, before I went off to college. TYPICAL DATE: going to the Fillmore to see Quix*O*tic and Erase Errata open for Sonic Youth, and arriving no less that four hours early so that we could stand directly in front of Kim Gordon (which we accomplished easily but then our friend James came to the show late/on normal people time and squeezed up front with us and it was like we've been waiting allll day!). And then the next day after that show we'd go to Amoeba records to see Sonic Youth, again, and stand in front of Kim, again. While they played a nearly identical set of songs off of Murray Street which we didn't even really like except that Kim wasn't playing bass as much now that Jim joined the band she was free to dance around a bit more in her beige beige beige Marc Jacobs dresses. It was magick and it was romance.
And now Cotton and I are good home girls. And I feel like though I've spent much of the last ten years living on the opposite side of the continent, that we've come a very long way together. And I'm super excited to see her this weekend. And of course Grey, my NYC long lost soul. And ZONA: the most brilliant girl in the world. Possibly. God.
I am feeling really bad about stuff in my life these days but writing all this down makes me feel super lucky. If you have the time or inclination or $, do go out and buy every Softies record (well, It's Love & Winter Pageant are really the necessary ones).