Deep Cuts / What is a Man

I went with Max B to see miss Amber Martin's show at Joe's Pub on Tuesday. I am totally in love with and obsessed with Amber Martin. I think she's a comic genius, a shockingly empathetic and intuitive performer, and she posses truly magnificent gifts. I don't know what to say. I'd like to write books about her. I'm such a fanboy. Anyway, her show was a series of songs she loves and has grown up with, and she sort of told her story through her love of music. It showed. There's such a palpable difference between someone doing something because they want to be cute or make some point about their prowess, and someone doing something because they love it. Amber Martin is a fan of what she calls the "deep cut"; she prefers to cover songs you've maybe never heard of, but definitely should seek out. This is why she's such a great DJ: she has fantastic taste in music and an encyclopedic knowledge of music history, and an earnest and electric curiosity about how artists work, how people convey emotions. But there's also a subtler point here, too; by choosing these "deep cuts", Amber superimposes herself, her taste, her story, her technique, onto the songs. It may not matter that you haven't heard this Andrea True Connection song before, because if you do track down the LP, you'll still compare it to Amber's version. Amber lives in the past and the present and the future at the same time. It's a tricky thing, this thing of letting love guide you through space/time. It's hard, not everyone can do it. Amber believes that you can, and she invites you to join her. I loved her show and I love Amber Martin and she is a genius. She talked a bit about being a witch, how she was born into a secret lineage of witches. I thought: that's right. She also practices Rock and Roll, which is becoming an ever-more arcane and occult practice. She knows the Old Ways of Heavy Metal. Rock on. Blessed Be.

After the show, Max B and I hung out with Amber and Jill and Rob and Brett in the upstairs at Joe's, congratulating everyone and falling in love. Then we went to Acme, which was cute, because we danced to Vanity 6's "Nasty Girl" and that's maybe one of my favorite songs in the world. Max B and I took a cab to Queeraoke and had fun there until last call.

The next day I woke up hungover, ate some californian chex mix and went to the Issey Miyake sample sale. I got there later than I wanted to, since it was only open from 8am-3pm. I saw a guy enter the building at the same time as me. We nervously waited for the elevator. He was much more nervous than I was. "I thought there'd be a line. I'm so surprised..." he said. I grunted in response because I was hungover. "I mean, I wanted to come before lunch." He needn't have worried. We got to the space and it was huge, tons and tons and tons of clothes, but not a lot for men. Not terribly crowded either. I was getting into it, starting to feel my west coast oats, if you get my drift. The men's selection was small, there was a real chatty guy (maybe he worked there, or he was an assistant to one of the customers) who sighed and whimpered to me that there were slim  pickings for men. Right, but like... what's a man, right? I saw groups and pairs of fashion cogniscenti guys, the type of men who wear long skirts, trying on the so-called "women's" pieces. Most of the customers were older white women. There were some younger people like me, but for the most part, it was people who were just sprucing up their wardrobe. That was the cool and weird thing about this. It was a sample sale from a luxury designer, whose clothes were very expensive, even marked down 75%, and the people that came to the sample sale were... regulars. These were women I overheard, over and over and over again, who were replacing their favorite pieces. "I have that one but in a skirt, so I'm getting the top." or "I've had this one for years, it's old, so I wanted another one. I love it." It was nuts. They were talking about $1000 polyester dresses. Marked down to $250, but still. One sweet looking woman watched me try on a jacket and said "Oh, sorry-- I'm just looking at you because I'm shopping for my son." I wish my mom would shop for me at Issey Miyake and I bet she wishes she could too. I wanted a jacket or coat but there weren't many that looked like they'd fit me. So I found lots of crazy pants. You know me, I love a fussy bottom. I found a pair of circle-cut Pleats Please trousers with dark navy blue fur. A kind of fake polyester wool. They're amazing. I know they're amazing because multiple people tried to take them away form me. Some customers would wistfully eye them and say "Oh, those are so...nice..." as I walked past them. Others would stop me and ask if I was getting them, if they could try them on real quick. One woman, a lovely older lady who looked like she collected art and probably had a good sense of humor but not right at that second, reached out and tried to grab them out of my hands. She hissed "Those aren't men's pants, are they? I don't think those are men's." And like, okay; point well taken. But again, what's a man? I got the pants. I love them and they were exorbitant. Happy Birthday to Myself.

Last night I saw Molly Pope perform at 42 West. I love her on such a deep level that it's hard to find a cogent way of talking about her. She's hilarious, poignant, deeply nuanced, intelligent and... I don't know, breathtaking. I love seeing Molly perform. There is no one who sings like her. Her sense of humor and humanity and gravitas is scintillating and I had such the best time at her show. She's performing at 42 West the next couple of Thursdays this month, and you should go.

On my way there I finally had a chance to go to Ur Head Is Mine, a series of performances and happenings curated by Yolene and Yulan Grant at AC Art Institute Gallery. Really bummed that I hadn't been able to make it to the previous performances, but was glad to see this one and definitely will come back. The roster of performances is a wonderful cross-section, folks from NYC and elsewhere, and it's always nice to have a capital A Art space to play in. Last night I saw Christopher Udemezue perform, and was struck as always by the way he negotiates complexity onstage. I've seen him perform a few times, and it's always different, but yet heartbreakingly related. It was a rewarding, frightening, sad and scary week to see this work. I don't know what to say other than I'm glad I did see it, as I always am, and especially this week.

Feeling weird about America this week. Here is a clip from MAPPLETHORPE sort of tangentially related:

So, the thinking is: the cops won't necessarily always protect you. Furthermore, the cops could sometimes be out to get you. Specifically black people and specifically kids and specifically poor people. There is no security, the power of protection is not absolutely good. We don't and never have lived in a world where that can be relied on. Your disappointment with discovering this is on you. The reality is awful. I don't know what to do about it. How to think about it. It's not, I realize, about police brutality. And it's not about gun control, either. Not just that. It's about racism, it's about who gets to live and who gets to die, who gets to be a person. Who gets killed as a possible threat, and who gets sympathy as "mentally ill". Who gets to be safe. Who gets the benefit of the doubt. Who does the doubting. What, again, is a man. Who gets to be human.

It's Friday and I'm only working a half day, from home. I'm going to go out to lunch and then I'm going to Gio Black Peter's opening at the Bureau of General Services Queer Division. His new show is called The Night Gardener and it includes a play he's written called "The Longest Night of the Year" and I'm in the play! And we're performing it at midnight tonight. So I'm going to have to take a nap or something before then.

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