Like me, Like me

Yesterday morning I rode the train across from this guy wearing cropped pants. He looked kind of ridiculous and also really sexy. I couldn't make up my mind, or unpack what I liked about him. He had facial hair, which, first of all, ugh. And his jaunty cropped pants seemed to be trying too hard. But he was dressed cute and had a cute face. I figured it out; he had wrinkles, tiny little ones. He was probably anywhere from my age to 40. He looked not like an underage boy, but like a grown-up. I thought he was so sttractive. I thought "Oh cool, his face has wrinkles too!" I thought of that Björk lyric in "Isobel": "Like me, like me." Isn't that song about someone falling in love with herself? I thought of the cover art for the CD single, too:

Some fags only like to date or have sex with or fantasize about young boys. When I was 15 and had a crush on a boy for the first time, the boy I had a crush on was also 15. That made sense to me. But now, as an adult, I cannot fathom a 15 year old as a romantic or sexual entity. Some fags still want to fantasize young boys even when they themselves are no longer young. I only want to fantasize about boys who are more or less "where I'm at" in the life process. Like, seeing this sexy older guy in cropped pants who had wrinkles but he was still really attractive (I wanted to go sit next to him and flirt but it was 8:45am and I was bleary) was sort of reassuring. I like guys that are like me. I'm not cursed with being a chicken hawk. That's nice, huh.

I met up with Erin the weekend before last for lunch. We went to Wild Ginger, that all-vegan "pan-asian" Thai place on Vedford. it's corny, I know, it's kind of touristy, whatever. I order from there all the time. It's kind of rare (for me) to find a Thai restaurant that serves food that's vegan and doesn't have eggs or fish stuff in it. It was a lovely lunch. I might like going to lunch more than going out to dinner. Depending. Anyway, Erin brought me a present. She presented me with a copy of Mary Gaitskill's book Veronica, which she lovingly inscribed for me:

I'd been meaning to read this forever. I remember our friend Thain saying how much he liked this book. Erin and I both like Gaitskill's work. I just finished the book last night. It's so fucked up, you guys. I mean, just like everything Mary Gaitskill does; it's fucked up and gorgeous. Icky and incendiary. Sometimes I think her writing is too wrought, or tries too hard, or is too deliberately inscrutable, and I'll get turned off by some of the descriptions, but then there'll be some amazingly insightful revelation about human nature. Like, she maps out these really tricky interactions between people in such a direct and muscular way. it's incredible. It's not even the amazing dialogue or something, it's how she describes characters' understanding of each other. It's so cool. It had been a long while since I read any of her work, and, as painful and disturbing as the story was (I mean, it's Mary Gaitskill's AIDS and Fashion novel), it was so good. Such a good lunch gift. Happy New Year to ME.

Now I'm reading Beth Ditto's memoir Coal To Diamonds. Written with help from the legendary Michelle Tea. I'm obviously such a big fan of both of them that it's impossible for me not to be biased, but so far the book is really good. One of the things I really love about Beth Ditto's work, even before the Gossip got super duper top of the pops famous, is that she always addressed the ways in which classism and feminism, homophobia, racism and ableism worked together. Now, she's totally a pop star now, and has a certain amount of authority in culture (moreso in Europe but still) so it's one thing to write a memoir from the position of a successful singer, looking back on your journey.

It's really hard for me to convey to you, though, how cool and radical it was for Beth to be talking about and singing about classism in the context of underground punk rock. Even feminist punk rock, even indie kids, you know, whatever. The scene. So many things go unsaid and unaddressed, privilege functions by maintaining it's invisibility, even within the so-called liberated context of underground youth culture. I've always admired the fact that Beth told the real truth about her background, highlighted the fact that not everyone had access to cosmopolitan culture and irony, etc. When they were a small-ish punk band opening for bigger acts in the early aughts, her interviews and soundbites where she talked about coming from really severe poverty were eye-opening, at least for me, and part of a larger discussion within "the scene" about class, money, our backgrounds and our privilege. I think it's cool. Even now, in New York, so many really cool, liberal, awesome people are totally scared to talk about money. Maybe for fear of admitting they have it?

Totally obsessed this morning with the Vainio/Vaisanien/Vega album Endless. Here's "Medal":

I don't know why I was even aware of it, but I was really obsessed with this record when it came out. I think maybe because at the time I was obsessively reading CMJ every month. I don't know why I even subscribed to that magazine, in high school, but it totally changed my life, and exposed me to a lot of really cool things.

It's funny, when I got this record, I did actually know who Pan Sonic (formerly Panasonic) were, because they had just changed their name from Panasonic to Pan Sonic because of a lawsuit, and the "a" which they deleted from the band name became the title of their then-current album A, and I had just read articles about that. And they also remixed a song on Jarboe's amazing, totally underrated, life course-altering record Anhedoniac. So I knew who they were and I liked them, even though I wasn't into electronic music as such, I guess. I had no idea who Alan Vega was. I had a loose notion of who Suicide was. I was just really into this record. I remember it getting not amazing reviews, but I liked it so much. I think they put out a second album together but I don't remember hearing it. or, if I did hear it, I wasn't crazy about it.

Suicide is so nuts too. It's wonderful to think how much of an influence they had on so, so many people. Including me, of course. But you read these descriptions of what their live performances were like, and I wonder if I would have gotten into it, if I had seen them in the 70s. It sounds scary. This idea of bringing the street into the nightclub. The crazy guy on the corner who talks to himself; put him onstage in your disco. Make it real.

1 comment:

Yan said...

I thought Coal to Diamonds was a great read? I read Cyndi Lauper's memoir right after, which is also great.