1/31/12

Catching Up Matching Up


My legs and my back and my butt are all really sore from Saturday. I am working on a secret new project with good old art friend Miriam, who was one of the original dancers in The Party Ice, and she and I both were in Richert Schnorr's brilliant little dance/art/porn/video album/band Graphic.Glory, as well. She's been living in Scotland for the last few years, and is recently back to New York, and so we are making some performances together. Anyway she's a real dancer, as well as personal trainer, and keeping up with her is a fucking challenge! I'm excited to make new work with her, and to collaborate, something I'm historically loathe to do.

And my whole body hurts. It's a good hurt. I thought it would be smart to go to the gym before meeting up with her for dance-making, but I guess this was a mistake. Ouch!


Today, I have a cough. My chest feels scratchy. I blame the radiator and the heat in my room. The dust. The environment. It sucks. I'm really angry about having a cough. I better not fucking get sick. I will kick my own ass.

Last night I went and saw dear heart Nicholas Gorham's new show GOD FREE THE QUEEN at Dixon Place. I know that they filmed it, but still, I'm kind of pissed off about the fact that it was only one performance! It was really beautiful, and I hope Nicholas does it again! I don't remember when I first met Ms. Nicholas Gorham, but I have always loved her (and I'm not the only one). His performances all over NYC both solo and in fantastic group productions of the likes of Mx. Justin Vivian Bond and the Big Art Group have made him something of a rising star. And he should be! Nicholas is absolutely one of the reasons I am excited about living in New York, is because I get to see work like the show I saw last night. I really enjoyed his piece last year at La MaMa, One Drop Passing which examined identity, race, and language. It was pretty epick, and also conversational, with surprising gravity and nuance. The new show I saw last night, GOD FREE THE QUEEN, explored the themes of loss, beauty and decay. It's kind of hard to describe. It reminded me of that part in the Bill Cunningham documentary, where he talks about how a sign of Rei Kawakubo's forward-thinking was she copped to being inspired by the silhouettes of homeless people in New York in the 1980s. (Actually, she said that she designed for the "bag lady" of New York). Nicholas' performance, both visually and textually, refers simultaneously to classic high art, medieval aesthetics, as well the desperation and danger of life on the streets. I was incredibly impressed by the writing in the show, his deft and very clever use of iambic pentameter was actually really cute and smart.

The show also featured some great musical numbers, danced in part by everyone's favorite Cabaret Superstar Bradley Kal Hagan. There were at least two songs by Queen in the show. Nicholas has such a great voice, maybe better (or at least more human) than Miss Old Freddie Mercury's. And anyway Nicholas is alive to sing them.

Hearing "I Want To Break Free" did remind me, however, of my trip to Berlin last summer, when homegirl La JohnJoseph and I followed our sexy Israeli cab-driver over to his apartment, after my performance Bassy Cowboy Club (that is actually what it is called). Sexy Israeli Cabdriver took us to a gigantic living room in a beautiful old building, and asked us to stand in front of a projection screen while he shot images of other naked boys onto us as lighting and took our photo. (Typical). Anyway the sexy Israeli cabdriver revealed not only that he was a billionaire Aries Heiress, but that she was gifted musically as well. He picked up an acoustic guitar and began to sing, with this indecipherable (to my ears) accent "I Want To Break Free". La JJ was of course wooed by this, I was trying to maintain my pose in the screen-light and wanted to keep taking photos.

"Dude," I asked "are you singing, like, QUEEN?"
"Yes," he said "but it's my own special version."

I don't know the words to the song, but JJ did and they sang them together and fell in love and the rest if herstory.

Anyway the point is Nicholas' show was great! It made me happy. Pray that you can see it performed again soon.

Here's a classic video of Nicholas: "IN THE WOODS"

Speaking of CATCHING UP, the bartender at Dixon Place last night was none other than old friend Thain, who I hadn't seen in some time and whom just returned, sun-kissed, from a tropical vacation. We do love the Sun. Anyway I ordered some drinks before the show and I had the much-ballyhooed SAINT VIVIAN, named of course for Mx. JVB and concocted by Thain. I know I'm late to the party on this one, it was sort of the Official Cocktail of 2011, but it was great! I am not even the biggest cocktail drinker, really (just some warm flat beer, maybe a little Mountain Dew to cut the flavor), but it was so good. I could drink them all the time. I see what all the buzz is about. You should go drink them. I will meet you at the DP bar and you can buy me one and we'll drink them together, how about that?

Also in the "Catching Up" department, I got a big pile of books for Xmas (thanks, Santa!) and finally am getting to them. I just finished Gerty Stein's Wars I Have Seen, and thoroughly loved it. But it did take forever to finish. So now I'm reading Laurie Weeks' Zipper Mouth which is AWESOME. I know I'm late to the part on this too, everyone else has read and loved it, but I just started it. it makes me want to smoke and do drugs and fuck everybody and be in love. How exciting!

Last week I did an interview with a blog at my old college, which asks me some nice questions about the type of writing and art work I do. You can see the interview HERE.

Sunday, I went back to Seagull Salon for a haircut and I got a good one! William there is fucking rad! Nice! Then I went to CdG and got this cute new polka dot PLAY shirt.


It's a new motherfucking day, World.

Yesterday I had a serious case of the Mondays. Nicholas' show really cheered me up, though. And the usual cure for a case of the Mondays is, of course, a good old-fashioned Tuesday.

My fucking cough though. Ack!

1/30/12

Ess Eff Dee Ell

The time when I miss the West Coast the most is during winter, which I guess isn't happening in New York this year (thank goodness) or when one of my friends moves to Los Angeles, which a lot of them seem do be doing. However, I just found out about this tour going up and down the west coast, which looks amazing and makes me wish I was there.

Bradford Nordeen's DIRTY LOOKS is going to the west coast next weekend and if you are in San Fracnisco, Portland, or Los Angeles, then you should go check it out. You can see the full tour dates HERE.

One very special evening is 2/12 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco (good old home town). Here is the description:

//Sunday, February 12, 2PM FEMALE TROUBLE, a Genderfuck Program as part of the series Bros Before Hos: Masculinity and its Discontents.

FEMALE TROUBLE is a program that explores & explodes normative roles of femininity and gender. With work that spans five decades, these artists queer female subject space via drag tactics, narrative juxtaposition and overt performativity, with styles ranging from masquerade (Ventur's Mario Montez Screen Test) to mythic (Steven Arnold's Messages, Messages), performance document (Narcissister's Every Woman) to exposé video zine (via Vaginal Davis' Fertile La Toyah Jackson video magazine). Featuring works by Steven Arnold, Rick Castro, Vaginal Davis, Zackary Drucker, Matthias Müller, Narcissister, Patti Podesta and Conrad Ventur. @ YBCA 701 Mission Street (at 3rd), $8

If you are in town, you should go!

1/26/12

Sense of Speaking for the Possibility

Well, I am definitely in a much better mood today. I don’t know why. Probably the old hump-day blues. Sometimes I feel really turned-off and bored by the world. I think probably we all do. And anyway I feel a lot better today.

One thing I’m really excited about is that my buddy Becca Blackwell did a really rad interview in The Village Voice for his work in Young Jean Lee’s UNTITLED FEMINIST SHOW. Again, if you live in NYC and haven’t seen the show, PLEASE GO. Even if I didn’t already have a total friend-boner for Becca (which, hi, I totally do), I would be really inspired by his comments in the article. My favorite is:
“How would I even begin to create the paradox of masculinity in a naked body with a vulva? Can dance even be masculine? How badly do I need my movement to seem ‘masculine?’ Why do I care so much about how people will see me? In the end, we came up with a sense of speaking for the possibility, not the problems of what we are. I got to be bigger than the questions. As awesome as that is, it is still a daily struggle.”
This quote illustrates exactly what I found so exciting about the show, and also points to the inherent magick in art, in general. These questions are really interesting, with no clear answers, of course. And I think, as people with identities (all of us) it can be totally unnerving and even tortuous to be in a position to constantly be asking these questions. I am so happy to be able to see the fruits of these questions onstage! The place where the show comes from “a sense of speaking for the possibility, not the problems of what we are” is, like, music to my ears. It makes me feel really happy and present and excited to be in the world. So, thanks, Becca!

Recently I was talking trash with a friend of mine about this person we both know, who was waxing poetic online about something both my friend I thought was really lame. Some mass cultural icon/aesthetic thing we’ve all been force-fed and are sick of. We were being snobs, I admit. But I was telling my friend that I wish this person could find cooler, more accessible and engaging things to obsess over. It’s not necessarily a victory for capitalist culture, and it’s not necessary a weakness or laziness on the part of the consumer. I said that I felt sort of responsible. This is the job of artists— to work to widen (to the extent possible) the scope of things worth imagining, obsessing over, thinking about. That is the job of art, I think.

But then maybe you make something fantastic and nobody sees it but you. That would be sad, but even then, in that case, still absolutely worth doing.

Hello there.

1/25/12

Love Notes From Bet Getter

As if it were a mystery. As if we just don't know why. And we reinforce this, we ask you why. We want to know why. We want you to convince us. You think that nobody understands how bad you feel, and that nobody can understand. That if you told someone, they wouldn't get it. Or they would pretend to get it. Or they'd say they understood, but really they'd have some other idea of what it is, some idea based on themselves, which is almost worse. So you can't tell anyone, there's no help available, nothing. You think there are only a certain numbers of ways out, and that finding those out is better than being bad. Feeling bad. You think it's a mystery and that no body understands. And I am here to tell you that I definitely understand. I know exactly what you are thinking about, I know what they are all thinking about, because I am thinking about it too.

We talk a lot about compassion and optimism and hope and faith and love and forgiveness and perseverance and strength. These are all abstract concepts, these are characteristics of some fantasy dream-date version of ourselves. These are the ideal circumstances we live without, who's unattainability, untenable maintenance bums us out and discourages us from being alive. These aren't real things, these aren't help or hope or solace.

I know what you are thinking. What you are thinking is what they have all thought before and what so many (you could even say "all") of us are thinking, which is not a fictional personality attribute, but a simple observation. It's not because nobody understands. We understand. I understand. It is because THE WORLD SUCKS. Awful things happen, in perpetuity. Suffering is endemic and not incidental, it is constant. Pain is a part of life, and such an awful and omnipresent part that it does yes tempt one into thinking that the baby has dissolved in the bathwater and why not?

You don't get treated the way you deserve, no matter what, ever. Some people have a really easy time and not because they deserve to have an easier time or have done anything to affect their circumstances, just because. Some people have a hard time, too, for the same reasons. And I know that it is awful but it is also not something you can opt out of.

The secret to becoming a successful artist is the same secret to staying alive and that is to really bear down on this certainty. To really know, intimately, this bit about how the world sucks so hard. Art and being alive don't celebrate the beauty of life.

Anyone who tells you that they are simply noticing or celebrating the beauty of everyday life is either on drugs or lying or both.

Art and being alive work and are necessary because they come from a place of profound disappointment, disillusion and anger. With the world and how much it sucks. And so you want to make it better, or at least make it through it, by staying alive and/or making art. The sad fact of the matter is that this is the first part. You have to really get down into it, really be committed to rubbing your nose in the shit of life, participating in the torture of talking to other people, show up for your daily tribunal. You need, in other words, to be acutely aware, on a very fundamental level, of how hard the world sucks, the great unfairness of it.

Because only after that, by staying alive and making art and fucking and talking and singing and writing and dancing and complaining and making jokes and telling too much and being alternately scared and then brave about how much the world sucks, do you begin the process which culminates with you realizing that you have imagined a world beyond the one you know.

1/23/12

And This Is War

Saturday I was battling a really toxic hangover, and it snowed. I basically did nothing all day. That's not entirely true-- I cooked myself brunch and I painted my fingernails with that Chanel Peridot green/gold color I like. I watched this old Liz Taylor movie, Reflections On A Golden Eye, which I liked a lot. I ultimately decided not to go out dancing or anything that night, if only to avoid another nasty hangover. So, once the sun set and I finally felt fortified with enough coffee and magickal snack to leave the house, I donned my nicest outfit and I went uptown to the Guggenheim for this event, called "The Last Word" which was part of the closing of the Maurizio Cattelan retrospective (retrospectacle?). The event, which was free, was an almost exhausting seven hour conference, with a laundry list of visionaries from the worlds of art, culture, literature, music, and some lovely philosophers and a very nice economist man. I got there about halfway through the evening, so I don't know what the opening remarks were like, but it seemed like everyone was speaking on the subject of endings, finality, sometimes death and sometimes much less mortal forms of "ending". Drew Daniel, who might actually be the Most Adorable Boy In The World, gave a really witty and engaging talk about the endings of songs in popular music. It seems like some people were asked to address specific prompts, and some people spoke a bit more extemporaneously. Before coming to the stage, each speaker had an epitaph they'd written projected onto a screen behind them, as a means of introduction.

There were some real highlights, among them Rick Moody, Steward Home, Amy Hollywood, Sarah Murray, Tehching Hsieh, and Matmos, who performed "Germs Burn for Darby Crash" live (it was serene and beautiful). They screened those Proenza Schouler & Harmony Korine videos, which, I'm sorry, were horrifying. Tracy Emin had a really sweet video letter to Maurizio, about ending, breaking up, etc. It was nice. The real reason I was there, though, was because Courtney Love was scheduled to be the headliner.

I did have my doubts that she would show, or show up on time. I am glad to say that these fears were unwarranted. The evening ran a bit late, but she had been more than prompt (I saw her come in and watch the presentations for a good half an hour before her turn). The epitaph on the screen as she came onstage said "AND THIS IS WAR." She spoke for about 20-30 minutes, and was actually really smart and sweet and thoughtful. She also said some deliberately inflammatory things, bragged about having grown up with a trust find and made all her dreams (however poorly thought-out) come true. The basic premise of her talk was that we live in a culture that wants artists to be dead, and that to want to be an artist and to be alive is an act of rebellion, and constitutes a lifelong war, against nonexistence. It was really interesting and I am so glad I went. I saw Hole play in 2010 and she basically didn't say anything at all between any of the songs, and this kind of made up for that experience. One note, is that she looked really great, embodying every bit the Hollywood movie-star trope the claimed to be "reluctantly" returning to (she also said "I love tropes, I'm all about tropes"). She wore a very very short skirt, and stockings with a big (undoubtedly) deliberate run in them. She spoke from a microphone and music stand in the middle of the stage, wearing her glasses, and peering over them when she wanted to make a point.

One thing I wanted to note, though, which I thought was brilliant, was that as soon as she got onstage, she asked if anyone here was an artist. Some hands went up. Then, she asked if anyone here was an academic, some more hands. Then, having taken the mic momentarily from the stand, she spoke into it as she crouched at the edge of the stage. Literally everybody in the auditorium (or watching the live video feed online) could see her underpants. She continued, "okay..." she said "but there's not anyone from Page Six here, is there?" She shielded her eyes from the stage lights, as if she might recognize Lynn Hirschberg in the audience. She was ostensibly asking because she was debating with herself to recount a personal anecdote involving a man she assured us was a very famous movie star but who she couldn't individually name (and she didn't name him-- but we all knew exactly who it was). The point is, she began her performance by immediately doing some pantomime, clown-gestures, to "undermine" or complicate the authenticity of her message. If there had been anyone from Page Six, crouching onstage and revealing her crotch would've been a bad idea (or whatever). She was sort of commenting on her role/character and the type of performance she was going to give. She took the position of exposure, of defiant "I don't care if you can see my underpants" and from this position asked if the event was being documented, by a tabloid. Of course, the event was being documented, and any number of the Artists of Academics in the audience could totally go off and write about her speech (as I am doing now), but she wanted to go through the charade of asking about it. Addressing and neutralizing the tension. Asking a question, and then immediately answering the question herself, and forcing the audience to wonder to ourselves whether her answer was correct or not. It was really subtle and brilliant, and I was so star struck. She also claimed to have never had any idea what performance art was, prior to the Marina Abramovic retrospectacle at MoMA last year. Personally, the Marina show (while spectacular, yes) made me less certain that I knew what performance art is. I was moved by Courtney's speech, and tweeted about it as I was leaving the museum (at 2:00am). Less than three minutes later, as I was walking to the train, I got an e-mail:


Totally nuts. Maybe not that nuts.

Afterward, instead of going out to a bar, I went to Hana Food and got a sandwich ('Still a Virgin') and came home to watch America's Funniest Home Videos in bed. Another one of those nights that made me so grateful that I live in New York.

And hey, speaking of performance and brilliant things that seem to only happy or mostly happen in New York, Tuesday night there's a really cool event at the Kitchen, which is also free. The Varieties of Performance Experience: A panel discussion with authors Judith Rodenbeck and Shannon Jackson. The event promises to be an interesting discussion on the nature and uses of performance, and I am particularly looking forward to it because Judith Rodenbeck was one of my absolute favorite professors in school, and whose thinking totally blew my mind. Speaking of rock stars.

Neither Man Nor Woman

So last week, Comme des Garçons showed their new Homme Plus collection in Paris.







Cute, no? There's a lot going on here. Obviously, the wig party from fall continues at CdG. I thought the rocker thing was a sort of late-60s mood, maybe the Beatles at their groovier. Also giving me Noah Fielding from The Mighty Boosh effects. So, kind of rock and roll glam rock hair. The legacy of glam rock in western culture seems to have been a celebration of a kind of flamboyant androgyny which has it's roots in the 1960s. I remember reading a quote from Andy Warhol, saying that he loved the way that Mick Jagger so casually dressed in women's clothes, because it reminded Warhol of Françoise Hardy.

I do like the femme tailoring on the coats very much. The long-on-top look combined with bare legs is always a Springtime treat, can't wait for it myself. I do kind of want one of those coats. It kind of reminds me of my own spring coat, which is a very decrepit ladies pea coat from Old Navy which I got when I was 18. It's awful and kind of ugly but I can't bear to part with it. I just might, now though. The other thing in the collection that my heart beats for is the red high-heeled boots.

Androgyny and rock and roll are perennial themes for Rei Kawakubo, both aesthetics are corollary to Modernism, the great white whale of her career. I think it would possibly be too pat to read them into the new collection, though. Cathy Horyn sees this collection as drawing from two main impulses: the romance of Jane Eyre and punk. Now, I've never actually read Jane Eyre, I can't comment on that. The punk thing is significant, duh.

The current Homme Plus collection is titled "Tailoring for Punks" and it just arrived in stores.


I was a little bit underwhelmed, I gotta say. I get the tailoring aspect, but the punk, for me, doesn't come through here. I'm not so turned-on by the idea of subverting Saville Row, personally. There were a number of lace shirt-dresses in the runway show, which have yet to arrive in stores, but those are interesting. Rei Kawakubo's relationship to punk, in general, is really fascinating to me.

Of course, Comme des Garçons is incredibly expensive, almost so prohibitively luxe that it's offensiveness constitutes a kind of rebellious punk kiss-off. The fascination with deconstruction also speaks to codes of punk dress. And historically, I think, there is a significant shared timeline: Dame Vivienne Westwood opened her "Sex" shop in London in 1971, Rei Kawakubo founded Comme des Garçons in 1969. Both projects, more or less spearheaded by independent women working through their own businesses, aimed to create absolutely new codes of dress, to shake up the existing system.

Westwood: "I was messianic about punk, seeing if one could put a spoke in the system in some way."
Kawakubo: “It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t find the kinds of clothes I wanted. I was frustrated by the way we chose the clothes."

The frustration here is not with the specific garments themselves, but the culture surrounding how we decide what to wear.

And, of course, throughout the years, Kawakubo has incorporated punk iconography into her designs:


Comme des Garçons Homme Plus S/S 2008

And the seminal 1997 F/W "Adult Punk" collection:

"Adult Punk"


The F/W 1997 "Adult Punk" collection in installation

So, like, Kawakubo knows punk. That's totally a thing. I'm not convinced that that's what's up in the new men's collection. I think the rose motif is romantic, I guess, no more romantic than when Kawakubo offered roses last spring, sprouting from human skulls. Roses signify femininity, historically, but let's not leave it there. As Gertrude Stein says: "A rose is a rose is a rose". each iteration of an idea is a recapitulation and should be read as such. The rose, as a flower, contains both an androecium and gynoecium, making it hermaphroditic, marking it at once emblematic both of cisgendered historical romance tropes, as well androgyny.

Furthermore, the question of androgyny is complicated, too. Kawakubo is no stranger to androgyny, and does not seem to be going there now. She's not mapping feminine elements onto masculine wardrobes. The new collection is not androgynous in the conventional sense of being located between two genders, drawing from both. Rather, we ought to give Kawakubo more credit, her slogan of "neither man nor woman" seems to refute androgyny. Instead, she's a creature who exists beyond a binary-gendered world.

In Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex she considers the issue of how to approach the concept of sexual equality: "Just how shall we pose the question? And, to begin with, who are we to propound it at all? Man is at once judge and party to the case; but so is woman. What we need is an angel – neither man nor woman – but where shall we find one?"

Although she claims to not be a feminist, I do think Kawakubo has read de Beauvoir, and may well be referencing this angel. Hopefully this new collection portends an end to the gender binary, which I think is what Kawakubo had intended.

Also just saw the Comme des Garçons SHIRT F/W 2012 collection:






Star Wars! I actually think this collection is adorable. May the Force Be With You.

1/20/12

Intractable/Inspiring

So some good news, you know. Day by day. Bad things improve. And for that I am very thankful. It's hard to stay flexible and adaptable. Because, at least to me, it seems like the best way to be adaptable and flexible is to stay loose, and not too connected to the present moment. Like, stay passive and uncommitted. But, in fact, the best way to be flexible, the best way to adapt, is to stay vigilantly committed, and present, and awake, and connected, but only connected to what is the actual right this second moment. It's hard to participate all the time, but that is exactly what you have to do. (and I'm doing it).



So, I saw two really wonderful and inspiring shows last week.


(Photo by Ian Douglas)

I saw Jack Ferver and Michelle Mota in Me, Michelle as part of the American Realness festival. I've known Jack for a few years in NYC, and always admired his work. This was my first opportunity, though, to see a full-length dance of his in real life, and I was duly impressed. The piece ostensibly draws from the story of Cleopatra. I'm not incredibly well-versed in dance history or language, but I was really touched by the subtlety and nuance of the performance. So many of the really crucial and poignant parts of the show hinged on really small, deliberate moves, inflections, and tableaux. The piece, for me, is about communication, identity, and guilt. There was a certain sense of claustrophobia, ecstatic and impending doom barreling towards us, as the two performers enact their final desperate wills onstage, seemingly locked in a room. Obviously, the palace and the dungeon are the same. The handmaiden and the Queen. The boy star and the girl back-up dancer. The dynamics that the piece uses as points of departure were handled really intelligently. Jack's art is so rewarding, in a way which I really admire. The performance work doesn't reward you for picking up references, necessarily. It doesn't pat you on the back for your stamina or patience, as an audience member. It doesn't test you, just for the sake of pushing you beyond your comfort zone. It's not a matter of freaking you out and then patting you on the back for it. Me, Michelle was, yes, kind of scary, though. It was! I was scared. But it was a good kind of scary. As the piece progresses, Cleopatra becomes increasingly candid and (apparently) cruel to her subject, while at the same time revealing more and more of the mechanisms of this cruelty. I don't know. I think there's something really brave to an art work that makes a really strong and beautiful statement, and also shows you how the artist got there at the same time. Explanations and measurements and communications don't have to undermine your art idea, they can inform it and enrich it. I was very impressed (but not surprised).


(Photo by Blaine Davis)


I also went to see Young Jean Lee's Untitled Feminist Show. I had seen an earlier iteration of the work a few months ago, and was really bowled over by it. The current production is a bit different, but in good ways. All my favorite parts from the previous version were still there, and there were some new highlights as well. Without giving too much away, the piece has no verbal dialogue, and consists of six performers of varying identities, fully nude, exploding ideas of gender, identity, and, yes, feminism.

It is kind of a hard piece to describe, because anyone seeing it necessarily brings their own baggage, and views it through the lens of their own identity. I think this is intentional. There's no single way to read the show, or even any single part of the show. It's hard! Untitled Feminist Show reminded me, in a really inspiring way, that art (performance art) can be really fulfilling, nutritious. It can be good and good for you. I do feel psychically and intellectually enriched by going to see the show, and I think most other people would as well. As a note, it is still running in NYC until 2/4. You can see more information about it here.

I was really inspired by seeing art work that involved a tremendous amount of research and rehearsal and process and technique, but that did not make formal political or aesthetic judgments. The show does not offer an easy answer. To do so would be, as well, to offer a convenient way out of the experience of the work. To take a really hard line, especially with something as socially-entrenched as identity politics, would be to automatically include some and exclude other audience members. Rather, Untitled Feminist Show raises questions without necessarily guiding a response. There might not be a pat answer to questions such as "What is a woman?" And then, of course, "Why do you say that?"

The show felt sort of retro to me, in an exciting way. I feel like that could be read as a criticism, and it's not. I think the piece strains for and implies its own context, at once implicating historical narratives, as well as situating itself, intentionally uncomfortably in multiple milieus. The performers come from very diverse backgrounds, in terms of performance practice and style. (Full disclosure, I'm friends with one of them, Becca, and I know and am in awe of the tremendous process they've gone through in the creation of the work). For me, the piece raised some really fundamental questions about the history of identity politics and feminism in this country. It reinvigorated some of the questions and concerns that so-called "second-wave" theorists of the 1970s raised. This is really exciting to me. I was glad to see a performance work that adheres to it's own logic (the way that good and original art does, or should), while at the same time implicating and recasting existing cultural and aesthetic notions in new light.

Anyway, both of these shows made me feel really excited about live performance, in a way I hadn't been for a while. Dance, or dance-based art. Always nice to know that we have this equipment, already installed, this hardware of the body. And how great it is. It is great. Literally awesome.

Another thing that I've been really digging lately is Lydia Lunch's spoken-word work. When I was home in California I got her 3CD set Crimes Against Nature and have been listening to it o my way to work in the morning. She's so fucking smart. And she doesn't brag about it. Lydia Lunch's writing doesn't necessarily want to stupefy you into submission by sheer force of syntax. Beauty is nice, sure, but it's not the only flavor out there, and she arrives at it unexpectedly. I've just been thinking a lot about Lydia Lunch lately, I guess. In a recent interview, Kathleen Hanna notes that Lunch "has influenced culture on such a deep level and never really been given her due." I am inclined to agree. I do think that this whole sleazy NYC thing, this Lady G**a, Madonna, whoever, this wild child extreme living in the big apple thing, is more or less lifted from Lydia Lunch's Church of the Depraved. You kind of cannot fuck with Lydia Lunch, you know? She's like, the SOURCE. (In this same interview, when asked about who the "Riot Grrrls" of today are, Hanna says: "Brontez Purnell of The Younger Lovers is my favorite modern riot girl. Also the women who run the website http://www.girlgangunderground.org/." Which I also love).

Oh, and I've also been watching a lot of America's Funniest Home Videos lately. I'm no longer too ashamed to admit this.

1/18/12

Purpose

Well.



My friend Robin is still in the hospital and he is recovering. I had a chance to meet his parents and visit him yesterday, which was very heartening. Out of respect for the privacy of all concerned I don't want to get too deep into it, other than to say that I love him very much and am looking forward to his recovery. It's too soon to have a real sense of what shape this will be, but I am staying optimistic, and so are his friends and family.

As you may know, there was a fire at Robin's apartment last Monday, and his two room mates Monica and Darrelle lost everything, including two puppies, in the fire. They are very sweet people, and it's absolutely horrifying what has happened.

If you are in NYC, there will be a benefit for the three of them tonight at Heather's bar. Info is HERE.

If you do not live in New York and want to help out Robin and his room mates, you can donate to them directly through their FUNDLY page.

I do feel very much like nothing else in my life or that I could blog about is as important. I feel really sad and scared and impatient. Hopefully the good news will continue. I don't know what's really feasible to update here in a public context, but just know that this is what I am thinking about all the time.

The last week has been really awful, you guys. This accident made me so instantly sad. I tried to reach out to an old friend of mine, with whom I had lost touch. (I will call him S). S had survived a trauma similar to the one my friend is recovering from, except S had done so in an attempt to kill himself. I found out about this long after the fact, when he was almost entirely recovered. He had made a really miraculous recovery, and I wanted to reach out to him for some advice, encouragement and support last week, because my friend is now going through the thick of it. As I said S and I had not been in touch for a while, since last September, when he was moving from outpatient care in New York to the midwest where he would continue his recovery. The last time we spoke, he said that he wanted me to know that he thought I was really cool, but maybe a little selfish. That is okay with me. I tried to contact him last week, and found out that unfortunately, shortly after moving out of town to continue getting better, he was unable to overcome his demons and succeeded in ending his own life. Which is pretty horrible.

And I am angry. In a very general sense, toward the world at large, right now. When I was 21 years old and home on Christmas break, I got a pretty bad flu, and then it turned really bad when I developed a bleeding ulcer (thanks to ibuprofen for the fever). I finally went to the hospital, and from laying on my back for so long, I also developed pneumonia. I recovered, I graduated on time, and I laugh about it now. But it was really depressing. I remember feeling really let down by the world. Like I'm being a baby. Like: it's not supposed to go like this. Just because it is possible that everything can disappear one day, just because it's technically within the real of things that can and do happen, doesn't mean it should. You shouldn't just get sick and never get better again. You shouldn't just disappear. It shook my faith in a lot of things. And I got it back.

And it's being tested again this week.

This may sound corny, but I have also been returning to the monologue in this video, too. Before she had a talk show, or a sit-com, or anything, Ellen Degeneres was a stand-up comic. But before she was a stand-up comic, she wrote one first monologue, which is in this video, below. Her girlfriend had died very suddenly in a car wreck, and Ellen actually drove past the accident on her way home one night, not realizing who it was, only later learning that it had been her girlfriend. The random, horrible, sudden interruption in her life had been the inspiration for her writing this monologue.



I don't know. I always thought this was a sweet monologue, and not a lot of people know the story behind it.

1/11/12

Helping

So, I don't normally like to use this blog as a way of drumming up support or funding for projects, but my friends had a house fire at their apartment on Monday, and they are in dire straits. They've lost all of their possessions, as well as their housing. One of their dogs died in the fire, their other dog and their cat are currently in oxygen tanks at the vet, and their third room mate who is my very close friend is still in critical condition at the hospital. These are three of the nicest, sweetest kids I know, and I would really appreciate it if anyone reading this could support them in any way possible (even just getting the word out to your friends).

You can see more background info about the situation HERE.

If you are in NYC, we are having a benefit for them at Heather's Bar next Wednesday night, which you can see info for HERE.

If you are in Los Angeles, there will be a benefit there this Friday, which you can read about HERE.

Finally, they've set up an online donation page through Fundly where you can send them money. Please donate and spread the word. Their Fundly page is HERE.

I am completely upset by this horrible news, and want to do anything I can to support them. Please check out the links above. Their friends will be coordinating donations of food/clothing/living supplies (men and womens, they're small so anything is helpful) in NYC. Money helps. Support helps.

Thanks.
Everything seems disingenuous and irrelevant; I feel selfish and stupid, and helpless. Someone I love very much is in the hospital after an accident at their home, and there is not anything I can do right now. We're trying to organize and coordinate support and be as helpful as possible.



I tried to go to the gym to take my mind off of things but I had to stop because I couldn't listen to any music. There are no songs that are not about it. There are no songs that are not trite and are not phoney. I guess they were real for the singers but no one can sing the right thing for right this second. And right this second is the only thing I can think about. I feel like I've checked out. I'm just waiting on news of my friend's recovery. I don't know what to do.



I also couldn't stay at the gym because I realized while I was running that I could not catch my breath, couldn't focus on putting one foot in front of the other on the treadmill. I felt like I was becoming hysterical, and might just start crying. Which won't help.



I don't know what to do and I am worried that I am still fucking it up and doing it wrong and making it about me. I don't know the right way to feel. I know that worrying won't solve anything. That being scared and sad and worrying don't fix anything but I can't help it. I've come to the conclusion that it is okay to worry, it's okay to be sad and it's okay to be scared but you have to still be other things too, you have to still get through your day and get out of bed. And I feel like an asshole for doing any of that, for doing anything that's not directly related to going back in time and preventing the unthinkable. And even feeling like an asshole feels like a waste of energy. My heart hurts. I am so sad.

I'm spending all of my energy towards trying to help my friend and I can't think about anything else and even if I could I don't want to.

1/9/12

RINGING

I wrote the entry below two days ago morning. I got some pretty upsetting news while I was writing it, and I just wanted to throw it out there for posterity's sake, backdated, and post what's actually up now.
____________________________________________________________________________________
Monday 1/9/12
Well hello. Thinking a lot this morning about ENERGY because I DON'T HAVE VERY MUCH OF IT.


Ai Weiwei and Rei Kawakubo

My energy comes from coffee. Also, this:


MISS HONEY! I do feel more energetic. I've been fighting this cold since I got back from California last week. It might not even be a real cold. Just, something. I've been congested and sort of the misery spectrum for a while now. I guess I can't really complain, though, because I've done basically nothing to help myself recover and have had altogether too much fun on the weekends.

And today my sinuses hurt and I feel pretty gross. Also, the heat at my apartment was out last night and this morning. And also also, the heat at my office is out today. So this is not making me feel super great either, but there's literally nowhere else to go. Am I dying? (Short answer; no. Long answer: yes.)



Saturday B0DYH1GH performed at Earl Dax' legendary PUSSY FAGGOT party. it was really wonderful to be on a bill with so many (so many) talented artists and friends. I got to cheer on my buddies Dan Fishback, Joseph Keckler, Raul DeNieves, Gio Black Peter, Balls to the Wall, Colin Self, the list goes on and on.



B0DYH1GH's own set went, I think, really fucking well. I think people could hear the songs, and that they really went with us on our journey. We had nice looks. The mythtape is out and everybody loves it (it's a hit! see previous post for download info). I was really glad so many of our official B0DYH1GH fan club came out to see us perform. It's really nice to have support.



But let's be real, the undisputed highlight of Saturday night was the fact that Lady Miss Kier performed. She had been billed as bringing a DJ set, but surprised the rabid crowd by singing more than a few numbers. New ones, old ones, a few Deee-Lite hits, and some exxtra-groovy dance moves.

Here we are in the backstage before the show:

LEO POWER

I met Kier when I moved to NYC in 2006, and though I have seen her do DJ sets a few times (you can check out her awesome mixtapes on her website), but I had never seen her sing live before. It. Was. Amazing. Lady Kier is absolutely a New York City legend, and it was a distinct honor to see her perform. The crowd went nuts when she started belting. She sounded amazing.

She also DJ-ed so many really awesome songs, including this oft-overlooked gem from Left-Eye's solo album:



Here's a nice group shot backstage:

(L-R: Colin Self, Mykki Blanco, Jesse Gold, Moi, Lady Miss Kier, DJ Designer Imposter, Perfect Little Daniel)

I mean can you believe it? I can't/couldn't.


Backstage video by Mykki, who I got to meet for the first time on Saturday! Obviously Ms. Blanco is a huge deal these days, getting much well-deserved press. I first fell in love with her when I saw this video of her reading her poem, "The Jane Hotel".



So wonderful, right? A banner night, by far. My ears were ringing and ringing and ringing. At one point in the night, LMK did play my song "Come On Billy" (which is also sort of where I got the name Billy Cheer from FYI) and called me up on stage to sing it. it was. Mind blowing. I can't even process it. I went home thrilled. Keckler and PLD and I got sandwiches at Hana Food after demurring from the after after after party, as you do (when you want a delicious Hana sandwich).

At that deli, Hana, every sandwich has a ridiculous, sometimes totally offensive name. The sandwich I always get (and got twice last weekend) is called STILL A VIRGIN.

Sunday I stopped by Envoy Enterprises for the closing of the exhibit for Micki Pellerano's new book of drawings, REVELATION.


Behemoth

The online photos only give an impression of the drawings. They're huge, and really intricate, and gorgeous. The show just came down, but the book is still available from Envoy's site. At the reception they were serving absinthe, which was nice, always. I got to see Jaime who just started working at the gallery, and whom I hold very dear. A nice relaxed Sunday.

1/6/12

PRETTY BEAUTIFUL



B0DYH1GH's first mythtape PRETTY BEAUTIFUL is out today! Featuring B0DYH1GH demos and songs we love/were born from. Cover photo by Christian Coulson.

1. B0DYH1GH - The Blue Dream
2. Sonic Youth- Bee Bee's Song
3. B0DYH1GH - Cherie Stems
4. Young Marble Giants - Brand-New-Life
5. B0DYH1GH - Coma White
6. The Halo Benders - Don't Touch My Bikini
7. B0DYH1GH - Cur Keys
8. Inflatable Boy Clams - I'm Sorry
9. B0DYH1GH - Get In The Pool
10. Sinéad O'Connor & Karen Finley - Jump In The River
11. B0DYH1GH - H0LY D1G1T
12. Butter 08 - How Do I Get High?
13. B0DYH1GH - I.C.U.P. (Yellow Belt)
14. Poison Girls - Ideologically Unsound
15. B0DYH1GH - Jenna Gross
16. Slant 6 - Ladybug Superfly
17. B0DYH1GH - May the 4th Be With You (And Also Be With You)
18. The Amps - Mom's Drunk
19. B0DYH1GH - Sister Cumshot
20. Alexander - Transparent (Studio Mix)
21. B0DYH1GH - Thor's Day
22. The Frumpies - Whatshisname Hearts The Frumpies

DOWNLOAD PRETTY BEAUTIFUL

For those of you in NYC, B0DYH1GH will be celebrating PRETTY BEAUTIFUL's release with a very special set opening the show at AMERICAN PUSSY FAGGOT REALNESS tomorrow, Saturday 1/7/12 at Public Assembly. RSVP for reduced price tickets HERE.

1/3/12

ENUFF IS ENUFF

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

I really cannot believe it’s 2012. I definitely thought the world would end this year. I guess it still might! There’s still time. Don’t worry—you can still worry.

I am still trying to come up with a slogan/theme for 2012. One idea, I had, initially, as a theme/slogan, was ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I've been thinking about that song "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe" because I watched the video for the Taylor Dayne cover version on New Year's Eve before going out. I like the way that ENUFF IS ENUFF seems to imply two things:

a) Don't stop 'til you get enough.
b) What even is enough, anyway?

Like on one hand, "I'll tell you when I've had enough" and at the same time the creeping suspision that there is no such thing as enough, really. There is no certainty. Everyone is, deep-down, insatiable. Is that even true? These are the questions of 2012. So I've been running this new slogan over and over in my head, ENUFF IS ENUFF. And then I found:



Obviously, right? The thing is, this phrase must have been buried in my subconscious, because I totally have this book and totally love it. Though, for the life of me, I can't find it at the moment, which really upsets me. Maybe I checked it out from the library (unlikely)? Maybe I lent it to a friend (also unlikely)? Anyway this book is full of helpful advice on How to Live. Two of the really choice bits of advice that have stuck with me are: don't do anything (the book recommends not even getting out of bed) and also asking people for things, like money (because sometimes, the book notes, you actually just get it, when you ask for something, sometimes, people just give it to you). It helped me through a difficult period in my life. And I wish I could find it again! So, again, 2012: Enuff is Enuff.

I had the best New Year’s Eve EVER. Except for maybe last year’s? 2011 was a year of really deep beautiful hangs, among other things. A lot of really amazing parties. I’ve been racking my brains for HIGHLIGHTS OF 2011 or BEST MOMENTS / FAVORITE THINGS, and every time I start I get exhausted immediately. What a year! Some highlights have definitely been, say, at the Monkey Island party when the cops busted open the party, and I thought they were strippers for the Birthday Boy, and kept motioning to the Cop/Strippers that they could cut me in the bathroom line if they wanted. They didn’t want to. But remember how we all had to evacuate the party, and then come back? That was a fun night. Until a lady in a very fancy dress, sitting across from me, smoking silently, turned to me and said: “Let’s play ‘How Old Do You Think I Am?”’ That was a fun time.

I think one of my favorite memories of 2011 (if not the most favorite) would be when I was visiting Berlin and my homegirl La JohnJoseph and I met up with Vaginal Crème Davis for breakfast. It was such a magickal morning, and we had a great gab session afterward, which luckily was recorded for posterity’s sake! Check it out:


So many highlights. And here's to more! I feel very thankful and happy at the New Year's time. yes I do.

I recently went to Uniqlo and the girl at the cash register asked me if I was in a hurry (I was probably grumbling and whipping my bag around).
“No,” I said. Realizing that I was being kind of rude. “I’m sorry. How’re you?”
“I’m good.” She said. “How’re you?”
“I’m good. Happy New Year.”
“Happy New Year to you too. Did you enjoy your New Year’s Eve?”
“I did.” I said, realizing how hoarse my voice sounded. “Did you?”
“I did not.” She said, looking sad.
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Yeah, well, it happens.”
“Well,” I offered, “I’m glad New Year’s is over, anyway. I’m glad we got that behind us.”
“Right?” she said, “Me too. It’s January, it’s a new year, a new start, you know? And we gotta get to it.”
She looked at me very solemnly, through her colored contact lenses.
“Because, you know, we might die this year.”
I nodded and said “Mm-hmm.” In the way you do when you have just been waiting for someone to make that point. I didn't want to spoil the moment by noting that, while, yes, we could all die this year, that doesn't make 2012 different from other years in the past. We could always all die. That's always been within the realm of possibility.
The girl behind the counter was ringing up my pants (which were on sale). "You never know. We might not all be here tomorrow, so we have to live for today."
I said, "I like that attitude!" then realized how corny and possibly condescending 'attitude' sounded, and said "I mean, I like that philosophy."
The girl smiled and handed me my bag. When I got outside I looked at the receipt and saw that even though the pants had been on sale, she added her own employee discount, knocking another $20 off the price of the pants.
See? I feel like this is proof of something. We're all gonna die. Give me those pants. Enough is enough.

Yesterday I had a very productive day. I went to the gym, I cleaned my room, I got a massage in Chinatown for super duper cheap, I went to band practice for B0DYH1GH, I came home did laundry and cooked dinner and watched The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, which was fantastic (and is on Netflix). I got a lot done! I feel good.

B0DYH1GH is, as you know, performing this Saturday 1/7/12 at AMERICAN PUSSY FAGGOT REALNESS:


Such a great line-up, right? I'm excited for pretty much everybody on the bill, especially Lady Miss Kier! Oh wow.