Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Friday, December 30, 2005


Stop moving.

What do we do now that the millennium isn't approaching anymore, but receding? It passed by the window an hour ago and the 1986 Toyota we're all riding in has about a thimbleful of gas left and its muffler is dragging on the ground. Even if we strained at our seatbelts enough to turn around and look back, all we'd see would be dim lights on the horizon. Ignes fatui. Millennial offal aflame. How can we stop moving when we have to go forwards to stay where we are?

The guitar weighed fifty pounds if it weighed an ounce. I called it Moby Dick. I played it on my bed, sans strap, sans amp, like the girls in All Over Me. But barre chords learned in 90-degree sexually confused summers do not stick in the brain so much as slide, amble and meander. Humidity is no good for steel strings or post-adolescent resolve.

Eventually, I had to give Moby Dick back to its original owner, a weed-addled, greasy-haired sub-punk named Robert who had made me cry years earlier in our high school cafeteria by insisting that Juliet died pregnant. "They did fuck," he had reasoned, pointing to the illustrated cover of his copy of the play and Little Lady J's suspicious paunch as evidence. "Either the chick is way fat or Romeo knocked her up."

I resented this. Romeo and Juliet did not fuck. People in bad TV movies fucked. Soccer Team Captain Ethan and Third Period English Jessica fucked--at parties, and (it was rumored) in the Math & Science wing stairwell next to the Coke machine. But what Romeo and Juliet did was too beautiful to have a name.

"She is not fat. It's just the way her dress is. That's what Renaissance fashion was like. And besides, you don't start showing when you've only been pregnant for, like, 48 hours."

"Whatever," said Robert, fellating a Twinkie. "Dude knocked her up."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Pogo Pazz & Jop


1. The Garter Belts, Drunk With Katie Couric
2. Shantalia, ABCexYZ (Remixes)
3. His Majesty's Knickers, Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria
4. Kizzmet, Dude Jacked My Shit
5. Mares Eat Oats, Rancid Sushi Bender
6. Nigel Fellowes, That Overhead Light Fixture is Terribly Bright (Import)
7. Rumpwax, Kissing Corpses
8. Mixmaster Liquify, Big Dick Stylee
9. The Pop Stars, International Blind Dateline
10. Marcel, Do Chomp Head, Thorax & Abdomen

1. Veronyca feat. DJ Cranapple 57 1/2, "My Booty My Business"
2. Beauty Pageant Contestants, "Lord Alfred Douglas"
3. Hans von Hans, "Ich hasse sie" (Import)
4. The Dishwasher Repairmen, "Schrodinger's Cat Looks Dead to Me"
5. The Rolls Royces, "(I Love It When You) Change My Oil"
6. Christian Science Breeding Room, "Bitch, Do My Taxes"
7. Tepid Breast Milk Rebellion, "Conventional Wisdom Suggests"
8. Fillet She Oh, "Kiss It Make It Better"
9. The Readymades, "Dada by Dawn"
10. Dancetyranny, Is It Just the Coke Or Does That Doorknob Have Eyes?

See y'alls next year!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Radicalism begins at home

Brokeback Mountain. I love it. I love that the leads cruise each other in the very first scene without even knowing they're doing it. I love that everybody in my theater gasped and yelled, "Oh shit!" in unision when Alma caught Ennis & Jack making out. I love that Ang Lee allows his characters to have complicated motivations and histories and desires that cannot be covered by the labels 'gay' and 'straight.' Yes, it is polite, yes, it leaves envelopes unpushed, but the encouraging fact remains that this mainstream film threatening to win several Academy awards features Heath Ledger greedily fucking Jake Gyllenhaal. As the Philly City Paper nailed it, "It's one thing to have circuit boys bang each other on the gay-fest circuit; quite another to have hot young stars cradle each other's faces at the multiplex."

Are Ennis & Jack gay, bi, or confused? The film doesn't know, and god bless it, it doesn't care. What it cares about is exploring modern American high masculinity and the toll it takes on men forced to obey its codes of emotional straightjacketing, stoicism and denial. Nobody has been able to deal intelligently with this in the last 10 years, except maybe Todd Haynes, and it needs attention now. If a couple of blow job scenes had to wind up on the cutting room floor in order for this movie to make it to screens and inspire even a handful of phobic football dudes to reexamine their asssumptions about what it means to be a man or a homo, then I say hot damn. Did we really need a gay Brown Bunny?

Snaps also to BB Mountain for the sweetest, saddest credits music of recent memory: Willie Nelson blithely queering the folkie standard "He Was A Friend of Mine" followed by her majesty Rufus Wainwright. All of us queer types in the Uptown were sitting there sniffling, "Totes, totes" through our tears.

My full film response, clarification & Foucauldian hoedown available here.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Season of the witch

Donovan is Richard Thompson on shrooms. He has the same posh UK elegance mediated by hippie populism, the same vast back catalogue of reggae-copping, psychedelic, folk-rockist sing-alongs, the same wait-how-old-is-this-guy-again unsettling sexual energy. He also, much like Dickie T., wields an intense Marc Bolan/Bryan Ferry/Frank N. Furter vocal steez, used to greatest effect last night at the Fitzgerald when he propositioned the audience, "Let us see if we can conjure...Aphrodite!" His banter was urgent and breathless, broken by frequent, presumably shroom-refueling trips to offstage right, after which he would return more spacey than ever to whisper questions like, "Why is it...that men...are born...with nipples?"

He trotted out "Hurdy Gurdy Man" first, bookending it with the inevitable "Mellow Yellow" encore. I ducked out during the second set to find sister usherette Ellen kneeling next to a man lying face-down on the carpet. He wasn't moving or talking and our house manager was calling 911, so I thought, "Well, that's it for him. What a way to go, right in the middle of 'Sunshine Superman.'" But then the dude twitched, stood up and lurched away, mumbling, "Mmokay, mmokay." Resurrection by Donovan!

Baa Baa Black Sheep is playing the Arise! holiday party tomorrow night. We have two new songs. Everything in the store is 10% off, so come buy a Nikki McClure calendar for yr uncle.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Eau d' internet dancing

Of all the things the internet has wrought, surely the most useful and democratizing has been the widespread availability of tiny quicktime videos of strangers and celebrities dancing like epileptic beavers. We at Dancing With Myself, of course, could not be more pleased with this phenomenon, wherein everyone from Ruth Bader Ginsburg to yr porn star neighbor shoots shaky digital footage of themselves dropping it all hot-like in their rec room kitchenette and then uploads it to their computer. The wealth of "My Humps" interpretations alone proves unequivocally that dance is alive and well in 21st century America, and grants a much deserved but long-denied legitimacy to the fine art of shimmying like a drunk-ass fool, in all its many forms and manifestations.

To those unsure where to begin their tour, I suggest my top three:

1. Assignment #25 of Learning to Love You More is the Fort Knox of internet dance footage. Sample at yr own risk, you may be blinded by the omnipresent sheen of bullion, dubloons, etc. Especially watchable are the videos by Elisa Harkins and Chelsey K. (Harkins gets Pogo points for filming hers in public, Chelsey for using a cake).

2. Melissa Auf der Maur's blog, in addition to Melissa's ace photography, has a holy grail clip of MAdM dancing in her socks to the Aries song from Harvey Sid Fisher's Astrology Songs album. Not. To be. Missed. Scroll down on the main page until you see "Aries, starting a new...dance!" on the lefthand sidebar. Windows Media works best for all you PC-types.

3. Whatevs else can be said about OkGo, their video for "A Million Ways" is four adult men doing a synchronized dance routine inclusive of the Marilyn Monroe faux-stripper move from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. And that is kettle corn enough for me.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Psycho killer/ qu’est que c’est?

Holiday reading recs are here, fresh from the Pogo laboratory. Save wear and tear on yr DVD player and read it up instead.

Saint Morrissey
Title is supposed to be in ref to Genet bio, but also picks up on Halperin's Foucault rehab. Whatevs, queer hagiographies all 'round. Mark Simpson outdoes himself here, offering up prose so sharp and fast and furious you're in love with both him and Moz by page 2. Doing a straight chrono Smiths-to-solo cakewalk would be too easy for him, so he takes side-jaunts into 60s kitchen sink drama, glam, Britpop ("Blur was the Kinks for students and confused teenage girls from Epson who mistook Damon Albarn for someone sexy"), James Dean, Oscar Wilde, Margaret Thatcher and working class fetishism. Best of all, he recognizes that any project of unequivocally outing Morrissey would only deflate the legacy of ambiguity that makes him so queerly excellent in the first place. He doesn't pin the butterfly to the wall, he observes its flight.

[In 'Sheila Take a Bow'] the identity and gender of the narrator, as in so many of Morrissey's songs, is not so much unclear as transcended, providing both the male and female listener with multiple points of identification, which is the key to the subtle, fecund richness of so many of Morrissey's lyrics; even subject and object naughtily refuse to follow convention and switch positions frequently, sometimes playing top, sometimes bottom.

Crazy Marie
Danish poet, feminist firestorm and populist provocateuse Kirsten Thorup is also the author of this bestest short story EVER (um, the "Franny" half of Franny & Zooey excepted) about a disenfranchised laundromat employee who kills her boss. It's only available here for now, but really--parachute, snowshoe and/or spelunk into yr nearest academic library to get yr xerox on, because it is that amazing.

For the most part, nothing more happened other than that they would lie there for an hour or so warming each other. He was impotent and always asked politely if she wanted him to satisfy her with his hands. But she didn't always feel like it. Then he would turn over onto his back and look up at the ceiling. The room was narrow, with a high ceiling, and the walls were a nougat-brown. When the door was shut, it was like lying in a cardboard box.

Punk Planet
I could swear I only just bought #50, like, this morning. But somehow they're already up to #70 now. It's their return to muckracking. Yes! Rake that scene-exploiting muck, PP! Get back to yr roots! Also, Hit It Or Quit It #18 is still ready, willing and orderable, stuffed full of reviews incisive enough to make Greil Marcus throw in his critical hankie.

Horses in toto
Caryn Rose's song-by-song report of recent Horses 30th anniversary reenactment at BAM:

I know these songs. I know them. They know me. I could draw a timeline of my life and show you where they fit in, where I first heard them, when I first understood them, when they took special meaning, when they hurt so much to hear I had to push them away for a little while.

Blogging genius
Mairead Case does it again. I am beginning to feel the need to put this woman on a 24-hour Pulitzer watch.

you talk about how you are trapped inside your body, how you want to claw out and away and up. everything comes back to the cold, to ways to die quickly and ways to do it slow. she is sleeping with you again, but it is okay because her mother has credit cards and a rental car; they are going to court soon.

Deb's revenge re: elistist snoobs

Deborah, ma petite chere, je t'aime.

yr blog wouldn't let me post this...so elistist and snooby it was
towards me!

as your writing buddy/partner in crime -- i was told you would have a
new post up today! what the fuck? you've missed your deadline -- git her

yr cowgrl feminist transcendental conservationist friend. yeah, that one.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Cherub rock

From: lpogo [dancingvioletsnail@yahoo.com]
To: bcorgan [sullenmessiah@prophets.net]
Date: Dec 6, 2005 6:52 PM
Subject: christmastime (??)

hey billy, what's up? so you will never believe what happened today. i was down at the corner of snelling & university killing time before work, y'know, theorizing about stuff, thinking about art and religion and commerce, and the myriad ways in which they intersect & yadda yadda yadda, and then i decided to duck into payless to get warm (i know, i know, but it was all of 9 degrees outside, give me a break). i went in the store and was getting ready to scrutinize fringed mukluks and manolo blahnik knockoffs until i could feel my face again when what did i hear? none other than the dulcet tones of yr very own plaintive whine, floating over the PA!

well i'm telling you, you could have just about knocked me over with a feather! not only were they playing YOU in a PAYLESS but it was a song i had never heard before. and i was quite the pumpkins fan back in the day, as you'll remember. all those long metro rides we spent together, those tearful teenage nights you sang me to sleep--you were my dylan, for christ's sake. my springsteen, my flock of seagulls, my kajagoogoo! i thought i knew every exhalation and guitar fart you ever comitted to tape. yet there you were, dirging yr way through this track in the payless, and it sounded very adore-era, except for that the fact that you were singing,

Christmastime has come
There will be toys for everyone
'Cause Christmastime has come for you.

i have to say, love, it's a bit creepy. i mean, yr musical & vocal steez is not exactly suited for ringing in holiday cheer. for getting the chestnuts a-roastin' and the sugarplums a-dancin'. suicidal victorian consumptives drinking absinthe in the parlor, yes; jolly old saint nick, not so much. plus, what with the context of yr previous records and all, wherein children are only referenced as emblems of dreams forfeited and trusts abused, those lines about watching tykes play are downright jack the ripper. "secretly the gifts still hide/ the fun awaits for you inside"? maybe, if you're talking about the fun of crippling seasonal depression and social anxiety disorder.

props to you for getting on that record back in 1997, though; it's cool that all the proceeds went to support the special olympics. what was it called again...a very special christmas 3? too bad you didn't make it onto a very special christmas 2--that one had debbie gibson doing 'sleigh ride'!!! it's all good, though, 'cause yrs has mase (remember mase??) doing "santa baby" AND sting doing "i saw three ships"! snap! and i hope you don't have any retrospective guilt for getting played in paylesses or anything, because dude, worrying about selling out is SO 1994.

anyway, that's all for now. let me know how you're doing, and look for my holiday card in the mail!

with appels + oranjes,
yr pal,
lizzie pogo

p.s. do you know what is up with d'arcy? i worked this bizarre event at one of my jobs and one of the models reminded me of her. sigh.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Love me, hate me, read my CV

As thousands don't care, Camille Paglia returns to Salon after a book-writing hiatus, ostensibly to take down Madonna's new record and career trajectory to-date. But she's far less interested in interrogating Madge than she is in hand-jobbing her own relevance. "Look! Look!" she screams. "I am Provocative and Bitchy! I am Influential and Visionary! I produce Important Criticism!" Somewhere in the midst of all the sweaty self-promo she does observe that dance music is unjustly ignored by academic critics (OMG, Camille, you're so insightful! Richard Dyer and Jeremy Gilbert totally didn't point that out before you did!) and that Angelina Jolie has "a complex psychic life." Since when did a lame-ass filmography, dating Brad Pitt and a third-world kiddie adoption fetish qualify as a complex psychic life?

Also: Cintra Wilson name-drop not appreciated, except as a reminder of the good stuff I could be reading instead of this baffling, self-congratulatory, unoriginal non-essay.

Choice turdbits:

When I wrote in my polemical 1990 New York Times op-ed that "Madonna is the future of feminism," there were squawks of disbelief on all sides -- but that is exactly what came to pass over the next decade.

In a 1991 cover story on Madonna for London's Sunday Independent Review, I described disco as "a dark, grand Dionysian music with roots in African earth-cult" -- a defense that seemed bizarre because disco had yet to achieve academic legitimacy (which arrived in the '90s as more writers embraced popular gay history).

Giorgio Moroder's albums, which I listened to obsessively on headphones, were an enormous inspiration to me throughout the writing of "Sexual Personae" in the 1970s and '80s.

...we should probably be grateful for the Ritchies, our new Burtons with their baronial pretensions and nouveau riche excesses. (I have already tartly commented in the U.K. on Madonna's equine misadventure.)

Specially for Salon readers, I have gone through my vinyl collection to create a master list of my personal all-time favorite disco songs, leading up to the rise of Madonna. This is Madonna's artistic genealogy -- a vibrant tradition that deserves more attention and respect.

Nice try, Cam-Cam. The only "vibrant tradition" you're stumping is yr own.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Twee as folk

So Sanden and I are in a band called Baa Baa Black Sheep. Come to the show tomorrow night at the Belfry (8 pm!) and you can hear our wicked cover of Anarchy in the UK. I'll be the one in pigtails playing the xylophone.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Le Ballon Rouge

Tonite, from my living room to yr awed ears:

with (chordophonic geniuses & all-around mensches)
Varsity Theater, 21+ Doors 9:30, $8

Also, I so totes wasn't there. In the front row. Center. But I heard that their last show was hot like Pace picante sauce.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Lady Lazarus

On the back of my Patti Smith early poetry coll. there is a blurb by Michael Stipe that says, "Anybody that breathes should eat this book." My feelings re: M. Stipe aside, I am going to p-phrase him now and holler 'cross the Interweb: anybody that breathes should eat this blog post. It is about memory and grief and the rabid alligator biting at yr ankles called wanting to be a writer. It is elegiac in the best and oldest sense, down to the solitary vocative O's. Like Catullus. Like something that really deserves to be called poetry -- deliberate, precise, economical, every word accounted for and a shiver on yr spine. It has the impact of Plath without her opacity, the same clipped one-syllable word-grenades and snakey rhythms:

all the way to new england, new england where we could cup mugs and mop eyes...

I mean, shit. This is just it. Why we should all be writing in the first place. To mourn, to recall, to dream, to live.

Monday, November 28, 2005

It ain't bragging if it's true

So I had this amazing dream. It was called the last four days of my life. I was back in Oberlin, and the town had tricked itself out even more fantasy camp than usj, streets snowy and silent and holiday lights bedecking the downtown corridor, my daily responsibilities limited to cooking and eating and storytelling and snuggling. On our way in on Weds. eve the roads were slick like whoa and we skidded off the highway into a ditch, Deb and I, but in an injury-free, laugh-about-it-hysterically-for-ten-minutes-afterwards way rather than a dead-in-a-midwestern-cornfield way. We also continued our tradition of getting blazingly lost in major Ohio cities and then somehow showing up on time at our destination anyway.

The Allen has a show up right now that is, in my opinion, gonzo bizonkers Snickers bar fantastic. Even better than Jim Dine splashing Diet Coke on his canvases. The entire gallery hummed with sound. When I went in there was a metronome ticking on an old upright piano with a computer screen inlaid at its heart, and on it you could watch digital video of the artist schlepping around her home kitchen, toddler on hip, getting things out of her refrigerator and putting them back again. Next to the piano was a sealed glass cabinet full of kids' shoes spray painted red, and on a little stumpy table nearby there rested fingernail clippings and baby teeth next to a display of about 30 brass alarm clocks. Most of the humming, though, was coming from a two-story treehouse installation. A staircase wound around the side and up to a thickly curtained room housing throw pillows and a birdhouse emitting chirps and whistles of alternately human and avian varieties.

When I came down out of the treehouse the metronome had stopped ticking. This was mad jarring, since I had spent the last 15 mins. subconsciously attuning my breaths & movements, as if on some deep-ass Wrinkle In Time tip, to its pulse, and with the beat gone my equilibrium was suddenly six flavors of shaken. So I was thinking, is this some kind of strategic fait accompli? Did the artist put the metronome on a timer to deliberately shake us up, to draw attention to the unreliability of time in the face of all attempts to record its passage? Or did the thing just happen to, like, break while I was there?

Regardless, I love me some 'stlation art.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


I am spending Thanksgiving with my Deborah. While I am gone, read this--all of it. I'll be back pogoing in yr bedroom on Monday.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The covers issue II

Maureen Dowd is on Midmorning right now, so in order to stop listening to it and impotently yelling at the radio (FEMINISM IS NOT ALL ABOUT UPPER MIDDLE-CLASS HETEROSEXUAL DATING. STOP IMPLYING THAT IT IS) I'ma just write about the musics instead. Lots of new tunes passing through the Pogo office lately, including a comp. of post-punk 45s (Martha & the Muffins! Snap!) and the Army of Me remixes and covers record, which consists entirely of--wait for it--20 remixes and covers of "Army of Me" by Bjork. That's 69+ minutes of the same song, kittens. And you know what? It's totally effing Great. There's more representation of the industrial genre here than is perhaps, er, appreciated by yr average non-dustry listener, but otherwise it's a tasty chocolate box assortment of bossa nova, electro, country, acapella, accordion, Nintendo, and Klaus Nomi, who surely, surely deserves his own genre.

Other cuddly cocoa covers filtering in:

Peter Schilling -- Major Tom (Leaving Home)
Like Patti Smith's Gloria, not so much a cover as a structural overhaul. You can do a mean down-tempo skank move to it that the Bowie original just doesn't allow. Plus it has one of the most subtly moving, bittersweet choruses ever wrangled, in this or any galaxy. You're sniffling into yr sleeve before you've even finished mocking the synth lines. Dude, could this be any more 1983? (Sobs, wipes eyes). "This is my home/I'm coming home!"

Siouxsie & the Banshees -- Strange Fruit
Don't get me wrong, Through the Looking Gass is the shit, because yes, "Trust in Me" was originally sung by a cartoon snake. And the Sparks and Iggy Pop do-overs rock out. But covering "Strange Fruit" when you're a white British lady, albeit a sensitive and careful one, is inevitably going to bring up questions of ventriloquy and erasure. Does Siouxsie's performance elide or displace Billie Holiday, with whom the original is so associated as to be taken autobiographically, and whose vocal presence haunts the cover specifically because it is so absent? How is it different for Holiday to sing about "black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze" through the instrument of her own black body/voice than it is for Siouxsie to do it with her white one?

Still more queries than answers. Covers issue I available here.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Fair

My theater job buddy Sanden (aka Thurston Massacre, former WOBC punk director and on-the-street radio interview producer extraordinaire) is obvs. the coolest kid in school. No, not the one who has all the hot tub parties you aren't invited to, the one who introduced you to the Mekons and DIY silkscreening during sophomore year. So why, MPR, don't you give the dude a job already? He's experienced, talented, volunteers aqui, and cleans up real nice-like in a bow tie and vest. We aren't plotting the downfall of yr theater during intermissions, just having good, clean whisper-debates about art & economics--I promise.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Crystal blue Naomi

Forget about rodents in blenders--the weirdest two minutes of video on the internet is officially Naomi Weisstein c. 1999 fielding queries for an axed VH1 doc about the "state" of women "in music." Naomi seems mired in some kind of late 90s/Lilith Fair empowerment-lite mainstream-o-vision (i.e., couldn't see past Sheryl Crow to, like, Chicks on Speed, Kristin Hersh) but offers about as much trenchant insight and analysis as you could expect from someone who is flat on her back and drinking out of a green plastic cup. Did VH1 agree to the interview on the condition that it could hang out in Naomi's rec room after dinner and eat Funnyuns? Is Naomi recovering from surgery/an illness? What is that butterfly thing on the wall?

This is still Naomi Weisstein, though, so when she starts slamming down lyrics from "Papa Don't Lay That Shit On Me" and sums up, "Just don't mess with me, 'cause I have a life, and I'm gonna live it," she commands respect, frog-voiced and supine as she is. She also wins the Metaphor of the Year Award for coming up with "gender church," "where the only thing you could do was frenzied worship of men--or suffering, abject devotion." Not surprising, really, since this is the lady who lays out my entire approach to feminism in three sentences:

"Except for their genitals, I don't know what immutable differences exist between men and women. Perhaps there are some other unchangeable differences; probably there are a number of irrelevant differences. But it is clear that until social expectations for men and women are equal, until we provide equal respect for both sexes, answers to this question will simply reflect our prejudices."

Right, totes. Next project: reclaiming mikvah.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Fassbinder is dead, Greta

It is all very High Art at the Pogo homestead right now, because there is water dripping from our bathroom ceiling and it's starting to look like the problem is upstairs. Except I have been upstairs, and there are no celebrity photographers snorting heroin, just some nice indie kids who bake cookies and play music. Shoot. How will I ever get ahead at my cutthroat New York art magazine job without Ally Sheedy to seduce?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

These monsters are real

When you listen to Heavens to Betsy all the time, you forget. When yr perspective is firmly squared behind songs like "My Secret" and "The Ones," to say nothing of the first B-mobile and Bikini Kill records, you lose sight of how brave and fierce these women had to be in the first place to come forward with songs about sexual violence and abuse, to pound the musical landscape with such seismic force that it would crack and shift and divide. It wasn't just a conspiracy of silence they were up against--it was an entire musical tradition, premised upon the "immortal" boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl-and-sings-about-it narrative that both reifies notions of men as poet-singer-subjects and freezes women as lyrical objects. For someone to re-write that narrative, to say, YES, I am going to work in the rock idiom but it is going to be on my terms and in the service of my own rage and surivival and subjectivity as a woman--that is how you spell revolution.

Today it's easy to lose sight of how radical a strategy this is, to parody, inhabit and reclaim "(male) rock guises & tropes"* in order to cope with sexual abuse. The Free to Fight LP has been sitting on shelves for well nigh ten years. But there was never anything inevitable or easy about it, and there won't be, so long as musical traditions romanticizing assault conspire with male entitlement to produce a culture of violence against women. Because the formula is still there--displaced but lurking & thriving in subtler, superficially innocent (read: EMO) forms, a la Kind of Like Spitting's "We Are Both Writers," in which our wounded guy-protagonist sings,

All I really want to do is get back into you
No tension, no worries...
I can't control my instincts
Why can't I be happy just to call you a friend?...
I'm getting reacquainted with my lower self
Redhead teach me compassion from your fragrant continent...
I'm so sick of trying to fight my body and you at the same time
I am righteous in my anger!
All I have to give you is my lower self

It's not like the KoLS example isn't nuanced or complicated, since the Bridges Worth Burning LP also offers up "He Calls Me" in addition to "Writers" (my sister Jennie reads it as homosocial/erotic rather than as speaking from a girl's point of view, but theorize fer yrself). And Ben Barnett is obviously not a hulking, blatantly pervy misogynist like, say, Gene Simmons. But listen to the "Direction" H2B 7 inch and "Writers" back to back and see how innocuous the "I can't control my instincts" lyric sounds then. Plus, "fragrant continent"? What the Saidian hell??

*Phrasing is adapted from Gayle Wald.

Man sex can wait

File under "Becky Smith Rocks":

"so the center girl, blowing the bubble....is it just me or does she kind of have that secret look behind her eyes that's saying, "yeah...MAN sex can wait!"


Monday, November 07, 2005

No time to do battle

Last week I quit one of my jobs. I cited "personal problems" to my boss, failing to mention that said problems arose from working in the corporate food service hellhole of which she is head manager. Adequate income be damned--I need to live my politics and I need to live them now. Like today, instead of contributing to the global solid waste crisis, culture of disposability and underpaid immigrant labor, I worked on getting this radical librarian gig a little further off the ground. So far it's been buckling and swaying at a cruising altitude of about 5 feet, and while I am proud to be flying at all, it'd still be nice to be able to clear, like, tree-level.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Lady, yr so self-reflexive!

"To find you here, all on your own, writing books like that--!"
Again, she looked almost proud. "Why shouldn't I?" she said.
I did not know. "It just don't seem right," I said. "A girl, like you--"
"Like me? There are no girls like me."

-Sarah Waters, Fingersmith

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Fake it till you make it

As I try to rescue an essay from an old, broken computer (stone cold coma'ed it is, like a Days of Our Lives character, awaiting a new storyline) for editing overhaul and possible submission to EMP Pop Con 2006, I have been reading the big kids' bios from previous years and feeling more and more preschool all the time. Because this playground I am eyeing, it has a big sign over the monkeybars that says, "LEGITIMATE," and another one next to the sandbox that says "ESTABLISHED," and I hear that Bobby X-gau beats you up and takes yr lunch money if you try to go down the slide. I am worrying about this, and about definitions of legitimacy and success in cultural criticism, and the ways in which they intersect with gendered assumptions about virtuosity and skill. I am thinking about my lady Becky Smith, who would have EMP-Con panels and syndicated columns coming out of her ears right this second if the world were anything close to fair, until I come across the following sentence:

When our five-year-old daughter Olivia's goldfish, Bluie, died, the other week, we were confronted by a crisis larger, or, at least, more intricate, than is entirely usual upon the death of a pet.

What's this? An earnest effort from the first night of a YMCA adult education creative writing class? Why no, it's Adam Gopnik writing in the New Yorker last July! I'm not trying to step to A. Gopnik, dude is fine, and has done great stuff in the past, and can write. But does achieving this thing called Legitimacy mean you can throw eight commas into the salvos of yr essays in drunken lapses of stylistic sanity? That you can toss off sentence structures with all the pacing, rhythm and clarity of Christopher Walken reading early Gertrude Stein in a six-page column in one of the most elite publications in the world and have yr editor give you a big fat pass? Even if it doesn't, being Legitimate at least means you will get gigs, and that is rilly, rilly essential, because without gigs, you will never get a bio. And without a bio, you will never be Legitimate. Right. Did Joseph Heller make this shit up or what?

Lucky for me I already have my bio good and ready:

Lizzie Pogo (AKA DJ Polly Seamy) is arts editor of numerous publications, including New York Metro NYC, NYC New York Metro, the Manhattanist, the Dusseldorf Times-Picayune and the Ronne Ice Shelf Gazette. She is also a frequent contributor to Hoyden Wench, Fucked-Up, Toothache, Rockist Review, McSwooney's, and Bummerang, and founded the performance art journal Scrimshaw at the age of 5.

After receiving an Anna Nicole Smith Genius Award for her 2004 one-woman multi-media show Speculum!, Pogo accepted a fellowship at Urger University, where she now teaches music journalism, performance art theory, quantum mechanics and basket-weaving. In her spare time, Pogo DJs Thursday nights at Brooklyn's Club CosmoNaughty, runs a number of record labels, guest-curates art shows and organizes vocoder workshops. Her book Blow It Out Yr Ass: Subversion, Performance & Methodology is forthcoming from Plosive Press.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Indictments for all!

Is anyone else following the P-Fitz grand jury announcement countdown and having flashbacks to Watergate, or, um, watching All the President's Men? Libby sounds too much like Liddy. And when yr nickname is Scooter...it's like wearing a sign that says "Indict me now!"

Monday, October 24, 2005

Conjure ghost of Rimbaud here

When the lights went out we were talking about Violette Leduc. Or maybe she was teling me the story of how she bought the bookstore, how she had her eye on this other place and then discovered it was secretly thousands of dollars in debt, and its owner was nicking copies on the sly--a trade paper D.H. Lawrence here, a cloth Doctorow there. But we were standing in FICTION L on the second floor, the room glowed imperceptibly brighter for a second, and then it was totally dark except for the dim natural light creeping over from the windows that face the street. The owner lady said, "Oh no. Oh no!" and looked panicked, apologized and ran downstairs, leaving me holding La Batarde and suspiciously eyeing the pics of Anais Nin and James Joyce scotch taped to the shelves, which suddenly looked less than benign, staring at me in the dark like that.

Turns out owner lady (Kathy, my nascent BFF & hero not only for owning the single greatest, most ramshackle and delapidated independent bookstore on the planet, but also for knowing who Natalie Barney is) used to be heavy into the femme-based p-rock, and rattled off this crazy list of trailblazer ladyacts she saw at the Turf Club back in the day, something like Lene Lovich/Lydia Lunch/Nina Hagen/X/Blondie. Patti Smith came into the store last year, says Kathy, just to browse, and I can totes imagine her there, trolling the poetry section for Baudelaire while the lights flicker overhead and dusty shelves threaten to collapse. Seance-worthy would be an understatement. Meet me there on Halloween and we can have a chat with Anne Sexton.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

N.B., Conde Nast

"I'd rather have no magazine to myself than have a magazine called 'Mixed Race Girls.'"

Zadie Smith on Fresh Air, adding that when White Teeth first came out, people sniveled that the only reason it got good reviews was that her pic was sent with the MS, and she's all purty-like. Says Zadie, "That would never happen to male writers, even pretty male writers, and there are a lot of them!"

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Je suis une saboteuse feministe

At the restaurant of corporate death today (aka one of my jobs) I served a woman who was reading Fast Food Nation, and we got in a little convo about how amazing it was, and she said, "Yeah, I feel guilty reading this and eating here." So I rejoined, "Not as guilty as I feel about working here, believe me." She said it was okay, we all have to do what we have to do to get by; she had to work a similar job not too long ago.

Afterwards, though, I was like, shit, that's enough of that, let's get down to the sabotage at hand. So when my shift managers weren't looking, I grabbed some of the table numbers from the bin next to my register, ran downstairs and put them in my bag. We are doing a promotion for a new gnocchi dish, so several of the numbers say on them,


Classy, right? That pun on 'gnocchi' for 'nookie'? Thank you, corporate marketers, for simultaneously (hetero)sexualizing me and making women customers feel guilty & "unfeminine" if they happen to like this dish (it's advertised as meat & potatoes and "manly"). Not only do I not know what men want, I do not care, and my nookie is ladies-only.

I didn't get all of the "what men want" ones, but I plan to systematically eliminate them from the restaurant. I got four today--all the better for writing "white" "supremacist" "capitalist" "patriarchy" on in sharpie and taping them to the window.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Notes on fandom

Sound Unseen 2005 is over, and while I had to miss the 3-hour director's cut of The Brian Epstein Story (never getting over that one) I did get to see what happens when a couple of Czech filmmakers shoot about a day's worth of digital video of crazy Nick Cave fans, try to edit it into something resembling a documentary and then decide to give up halfway through: you get The Myth, which is actually kind of great in spite of itself, especially the part where Nicky C., smoking and looking tour-weary and distracted in the posh inner sanctum of a European venue, explains that he used to have idols, too--like Bob Dylan! Only, he hurries to inform us, he met Bob Dylan. In fact, Bob Dylan approached him.

Also awesometastic was Debbie Harry in TV Party demonstrating the evolution of the pogo by breaking out an actual pogo stick, then confessing sadly that nobody really does it anymore and it's been appropriated. And this was in 1980.

I think if we want "a fascinating sociological study of the cathartic and sometimes crazy milieu of rock semi-stardom" we're gonna have to wait for Passions Just Like Mine: Morrissey and Fan Culture, forthcoming from Kerri Koch, begatrix of the essential RG chronicle Don't Need You. Lady is totes brilliant. I hope she gets the doc on in the near future, b/c lately, my world is like a 24/7 inquiry into fandom, and I could use some guidance. Last week, some disgruntled ladyfans at the theater where I work (job #3!) flounced out of the main house doors after the Honeydogs show, and I caught one of them hissing, "How can people be so rude? It's the fucking Hondeydogs!" the same way you might expect to hear an art collector say, "It's a fucking Picasso!" But as far as I could tell, the Honeydogs are not a Picasso, just a crappy pop band, and they were not doing it for me, because when a band needs more than twelve people on stage at a time and is not ska, something is wrong.

Then, at my other job, we had an event for this insane celebrity quiltmaker man, and when I told a woman over the office phone about it she shrieked, "[Quiltmaker man] is coming here!? Tomorrow?!?!" and proceeded to say, "Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god" about 20 times while I tried to calm her down. So I was like, lady, it's no big deal, it's not like Patti Smith is coming or something. And then I realized, with a shudder and a grin--Celebrity quiltmaker man is her Patti Smith. And the Honeydogs are those women's Raincoats, or Bratmobile, or Mecca Normal. Because this fan thing is wildly relative, and it warps yr perspective once you get inside it.

The begged question for me still is, how does the fan-artist relationship square with feminism? How can we salvage the potentially revolutionary parts (women appreciating & encouraging each other & their art) from the parts that reinscribe hierarchies & boundaries (setlist/autograph hoarding, backstage/VIP areas)? No answer yet, just a question. In the meantime, anybody have a copy of Fanmail for research?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Beachland blues

I am having ex-hometown venue withdrawal. Not for the new 9:30 after seeing 9:30 F Street, which was music docuriffic and made me admire & respect Ian Mackaye even more than before, which seemed impossible--no, for the Beachland Ballroom, my erstwhile pogoing grounds and site of many a 2nd wave riot grrrl rally/front row lady guitar hero swoon. I only just found out the pinball machine is free. To think, I could have been pinball wizarding it up gratis that whole time.

In all seriousness, this venue changed my life. It made me believe again in the power of live music, in the importance of breaking out of the bedroom listening circuit once in a while, of braving the smoke clouds and scenesters and drunk asses who yell, "Play Freebird!" for the chance to transplant that cloistered, personal transcendence into the middle of a crowd of other people, where you stand to gain so much more--something akin to collective spiritual catharsis. Because when the crowd isn't too wasted and the band isn't too tired and the jams are kicked the fuck out, stars align and you can look yr neighbor in the eye and know in yr gut of guts that we are all part of this same precious, psychopathic tribe called humanity.

The Beachland can swing this, I think, because it is so defiantly tiny. For reals, it's like my elementary school multi-purpose room reborn. Its stage, it is not the province of Rock Stars, it is the same creaky-floored, broken-curtained kids' hangout where my fourth grade English class performed Macbeth. Where I, as perhaps the campiest ten-year-old Lady Macbeth in the history of the world, got to sleepwalk, faint, and scream with great conviction from offstage left to indicate I was committing suicide by throwing myself off the castle wall. In that picture up there, if you replace the amp with a cauldron full of dry ice and the guitar with a cardboard tree, you have Act I, Scene I. So naturally, I am partial. Unsex me here and then some.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Zizek is my co-pilot

The new issue of Genders is out, and it's a doozy. While the Heavenly Creatures essay is disappointing (Are we ever going to get past Freud? Ever? I know that as misogynist Victorian coke addicts go he was totes the groundbreaking genius, but it's 2005. Could we at least do, like, Lacan?) Kathryn Kane's To Wong Foo exegesis is right on, wielding Zizekian social control theory like a sashimi knife to dice up racial and sexual minstrelsy. Especially awesome is her point that in order for a mainstream film like TWF to have drag queen characters and still be commercially viable (i.e., non-threatening, i.e., heterosexual) its narrative must necessarily elide those characters' sexual desires, reducing sexual preference to gender performance. Patrick Swayze in a dress is fine, so long as he doesn't start kissing any boys.

And speaking of kissing boys, Philip Seymour Hoffman doing Capote just sounds like Sarah Vowell. So, um, there. Part of me is like, dammit, Hollywood, quit fucking around with my revolutionary queer misfit icons. I know it's terribly convenient for you to clean up all of their struggle and complexity and anger and ugliness by casting Salma Hayek or Nicole Kidman and being done with it, but isn't there a Farrelly bros. project you could be greenlighting somewhere? And another part thinks, hold up, if some lonely, geektastic queer kid in Wichita gets turned on to Capote, or Frida, or Woolf by renting a video from the Blockbuster next to the Dairy Queen and starts writing or painting or even comes out because of it, then maybe, maybe it is worth it.

Still, though--anybody touches Renee Vivien and I'ma lose it.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

And I am totally a Kinks fan, too

Huh. Wow. I hereby forfeit all pretensions to musical knowledge.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Smile pretty, take take the money

Today at the sketchier of my two jobs, the restaurant one, some customers didn't like their food and sent it back for free replacements. My shift manager, already under potential dickwad surveillance by me, says under his breath, "God, that is so gay." Minutes later, said shift manager refuses to wear an apron because "it looks like a skirt," and a guy at a table I'm serving insults his friend for eating "like a girl." I steady myself, clutch my tray, and contemplate saying, "Listen, dudes, don't fuck with me. I'm a poststructuralist feminist. I read Judith Butler for fun. Any more of this shit and I'll rip yr balls out through yr nostrils."

Serves me right for not listening to Audre Lorde. Because this restaurant, it is definitely the master's house, and much as I thought I could destroy the system from the inside by queering and feministing and radicalizing shit up, I find myself passing over those tools and opting for the less confrontational, blunted, master's variety, i.e. not being "over-sensitive" and "giving the benefit of the doubt." And they get worse, the craptacular sexual politics of my workplace. In three weeks I have never seen a girl put on bus duty, and there has only been a dude up at the registers once. The cash ladies are all 17-24, cute, perky and carefully trained to smile and ask if you wouldn't like to add some steak to that for just $2.00. So I can't help feeling bummed and saddened and complicit in a centuries-old strategy of using young women's bodies and labor to grease the wheels of food service and capitalism in general, to comfort and congratulate and assure customers that buying more is always the answer. We're a couple of steps up from Renaissance tavern wenches, maybe...but only a couple.

It also reminds me of how some currents of (diluted?) 3rd wave feminism are too commodity fetishistic for comfort, particularly the ones that encourage us to buy our empowerment in the form of sex toys and coin purses rather than organize direct political action, mobilization and dissent. I've never been able to flaunt the Marxist/socialist steez before, just fierce alliance, because my survival feels imbricated with and enabled by capitalism in ways that are prickly like whoa to untangle. But maybe it wouldn't hurt to do a little review.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Pogo Digest

If the weekend's over and you're not up to integrating everything smoothly and you know it, clap yr hands (and just use bullet points!):

-No, I don't defend her conscience-blinkered, exhibitionistic, cash-mad L.A. fuck-up-ism; and no, I don't excuse her circa 1991 punching of K. Hanna, that was totes deplorable; but Courtney Love still interviews like a lab raccoon on meth that's been reading too much Lester Bangs, and dammit if there's anyone else out there being as gleefully, wittily confessional--even in the pages of SPIN, which continues to boast the journalistic standards of a kumquat. If you're gonna click the link, please, for yr own sake, scroll rilly, rilly fast over the picture, it's not pleasant.

-I have in some way handled (skimmed to read to re-read) ten of these books in the past three months. Creep. Tastic.

-Lydia Lunch and Exene Cervenka on the cover of Adulterers Anonymous. I love this. The way they're standing there, rocking the high contrast black & white--wary, conspiratorial, predatory--like a punked-out Dorothy and Lillian Gish. Exene's already got the early silents lace-up boots. Someobdy should have cast them in a low-budget 80s remake of Orphans of the Storm.

-Susan Sontag (Suzy Rosenblatt that was, RIP) gets her S&M on at the end of "Fascinating Fascism": "The color is black, the material is leather, the seduction is beauty, the justification is honesty, the aim is ecstasy, the fantasy is death." I read this sentence in a crowded airport two months ago and started giggling uncontrollably. Now I can't stop thinking about it. Tag, pass it on.

Friday, September 30, 2005

At home she feels like a purist

(w/ thanks to Kim for Brit scene reportage)

My resolution not to watch the S-K Jumpers video more than once (worship music, not musician; crush out on guitar work, not C. Brownstein in a suit) has only resulted in me watching the new Ladytron videos over and over again in an effort to figure out what the hell is going on in them. Really--in Sugar, are Helen and Mira supposed to be getting married? In, like, a goth notary public's office of the future? And in Destroy Everything You Touch, are they chthonic snow mountain divinities, or did somebody just have some extra white cake makeup and some bonsai trees laying around that day?

They should probably turn me off, all of the faux-geisha mouths and ironed hairdos and nods to glossy fashion mags. And they do. But the Tron are so fantastically upfront about it--so outrageously, violently honest in their quest for artifice--that they skip past annoying, shimmy over problematic and wind up somewhere out near interesting, if only in a hey-look-at-that-piece-of-tinfoil-in-the-gutter sort of way. Plus, I'm still handicapped with residual loyalty due to the wonderfulness that was 604. A good-ass record, that was. And that was in 2001, decently pre-electro frenzy/Kraftwerk strip-mining bonanza (c.f. early Fischerspooner).

The eye candy angle aside, it's still up for grabs what the point of making music videos actually is. If a song does what it's supposed to, it should conjure up a synesthetic Skittles California Fruits buffet of images, tastes, moods and vistas all by itself, without the band ever having to hire a director, much less rent out a soundstage. Watching Jumpers, for example, feels totes redundant (opp. to study Carrie's fretwork excepted), because when I hear it, I already see a video inside my head. Chefs don't go around composing symphonies for you to listen to while you eat their food.

Only something like Kimya Dawson's Lullaby for the Taken video (Mercury to Ladytron's Pluto in the solar system of m-vid concept & design), not in spite of being quaint and beautiful and K Recs earnest, offers something like a defense of the vid imperative. When Kimya sings about her grandma dying, and her flickering video self attaches tiny wings to a granny doll at the same time, the sounds and images join forces on the same multi-media all-star team, and you notice things about the music you wouldn't have w/o the visuals, and vice versa. And then everybody wins.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


A longtime fan of FOUND magazine, I hereby offer up Exhibit A: a mix tape song list with detailed track notes folded inside a cassette case. Found by me, sans cassette, on the floor of the basement of my house (housemates deny ownership). Xeroxed b&w cover art features an androgynous face emerging from button-down shirt, with pieces of face cut out, S. Dali-style. Selected highlights, presented just fer y'alls free of charge, strictly sic.:

Tweed Penguin, Sampler #36 (Missy picks 'em!)
2. "The Wicked Sea" - MXYZ, Dec. 1990
"The best rock and roll song ever." -Jeremy
4. "Fuck." -The Smells, July 1990.
From the concept album, "Concept."
5. "Gunshot, " MXYZ - May 1990.
Andy complains/drums.
14. "No Room to Rhumba." -Joe, Fall 89.
From the brilliant album Cartalk.

7. "Here Comes Godot." -The Smells, July 90.
Widget Crue sessions. Formerly, "I Wanna Call Her But Her Last Name is Smith."
12. "Padded Steel Christmas." -Nat, Dec. 89.
Originally called "Stairway to Heaven," but lawsuit pending. I rip off Johnny Cash.
13. "Surfin' Vicar." -The Smells, Aug. 90.
The best song ever. Vol 36.
14. "Biker Larry." -The Smells
About a guy named Lawrence. Ted Nugent plays all solos!!

So many questions begged here...who were the Smells? What was the concept of "Concept"? Was "Surfin' Vicar" really demonstrably better than "The Wicked Sea"? Was Larry actually a biker, and how did he earn the admiration of Ted Nugent? Send any and all theories, queries, subpoenas and lawsuit updates to dancingvioletsnail@yahoo.com.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Fear of a queer anything

Spaghetti Western String Co., half of which I cooked dinner for on Sat. night, won a Minnesota Music Award last week. They won for the "Eclectic" category, which Mike says is a euphemism for "Never Going to Make Any Money." My reaction is 1 part hells yeah to 2 parts well obviously--they're the hardest-working band in my house/neighborhood/major metropolitan area. I'm flashing back to when everybody suddenly started giving Miranda July awards, and I had to fight off that same threat of uncharitable "of course they're awesome, what took you so long to figure that out?" smugness.

What I don't get is why the Miranda July love hasn't shaken down yet to other comparable DIY multi-media video and performance ladyartists, like, say, Wynne Greenwood. Oh wait, now I remember, it's because she's an unapologetic radical lesbian feminist, and those are scary. Start giving them awards, and the earth might start spinning backwards on its axis. It's like how if we let boys marry other boys it'll only be a matter of weeks before people start marrying their mothers, and squirrels, and washing machines. If Christine in Me & You had gone around saying, "I am a radical lesbian" (not impossible, since July is hella supportive) would Cannes and Sundance and Roger Ebert have fallen over themselves to crown her their quirky indie heroine du jour?

Not on yr macaroni.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

When fans try to talk

Tiny Mix Tapes did a Xiu Xiu interview recently that is the holy grail of awkward fan-musician courtesy waltzing. I really sympathize with the guy, and I think the result is totes better than he thought it was. I have done exactly two interviews in my life, and one was great, but the other was Mirah on live radio, and I had to watch about six hours of My So-Called Life beforehand to try to control my nerves. I spent the entire interview trying desperately not to to say, "Oh my God! Me too!" or kick her in the shins whenever I uncrossed my legs under the table. When you read or hear an interview, you never think about the spatial dynamics of the place it was conducted in--where the people were sitting, how they were oriented in relation to each other. I now believe there may be a secret epidemic of interviewer-interviewee shin-kicking running rampant in small radio studios across the country.

When we, the worshipful, starry-eyed shin-kickers of the world, are allowed to go back to our bedrooms to write free-for-all fan confessionals, the results are inspiring and opaquely personal at the same time. Witness Sara Sherr's Hot Rock-era Sleater-Kinney panegyric in the Village Voice; it has more than a couple of those magic music criticism moments where you realize why you do this in the first place, why you slog through all the hype and posturing and bitterness that are rock journalism: to find someone saying exactly what you had always believed in yr heart, but never said aloud. This style of writing is easy to take down. It's messy and esoteric and reads as if it were written in one frenzied, caffeinated sitting. But it's the mess and the esoterica that salvage the bits of shared emotional truth that traditional music journalism leaves behind. And without those, we're just auto-piloting our separate paths through record stores and murky clubs--alone.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Career opportunities

I am employed. It's not exactly curating at the Whitney, but it involves working with art, and opening up a big retractable gate with a key, so I'm six kinds of thrilled. In fact, one of my interview questions gauged my ability to deal with "angry artists" calling to ask why their art wasn't selling. Snap!

Of course, the angry artist pacifier job is severely part-time, so I am still roaming southeast Mpls daily in search of steadier work. I interviewed at an intimidating co-op cafe with six intimidating Cool Co-op Kids, their Coolness instantly recognizable from their hushed monotones and unshakeable ambivalence about everything except, on occasion, social justice and organic lentils. I had a halfway pleasant convo with one girl about bell hooks, but she seemed to be in the middle of maintaining a world record for Longest Uninterrupted Intense Frown (23 years?). Laughing around these people was like popping painkillers in the middle of a bunch of Christian Scientists. I thought they might actually call me back because, y'know, I've done stuff with collectives & co-ops & whatevs, but so far, no love. Maybe my Converse were the wrong color.

Why is it that all of the jobs I keep applying for are lady-powered post-punk bands (i.e. Shop Assistants, Waitresses)? Does this mean I should look into being an au pair? At any rate, I really need to meet rent so I can stay in my house, because it is so crazy fantastic. Like right now, as I type, my housemate's band is in the other room working out a Sigur Ros cover, cello and vocal in fake Icelandic and all. The tables are strewn with home-made press kits and posters and various promo detritus, and there are boxes full of their new EP in the corner. We eat zucchini bread and play Scrabble and talk about samurai movies.

Just one more job. That's all I need.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

You could either be succesful or be us

It's not that there isn't great new music out there. There is. And it's not like I'm a CMJ/SXSW/Coachella-hater. I'm not. But somehow, I can't get excited about the Get Him Eat Hims and Feists and Go! Teams of the world the same way I did about bands four years ago. I'll bury my head in the sweet, deep sand of nostalgia and and whine that nobody writes them like they used to:

The Rondelles
I never understood how sexual "Like a Prayer" was until the Rondelles covered it. When Juliet sings, "In the midnight hour/ I can feel yr power," I have to blush and sit down. "Back Stabber" used to get played on Grrl Radio all the time back in the day and never failed to start a pogo riot in my bedroom. This band snuck out of my very own hometown under the Teenbeat roster, and though they're long since defunct, their mp3 page is still frisky.

Dada Stunt Girl
So Finnish. So awesome. So over. I wrote them up in my zine two years ago. Anarchist singer-guitarist Riikka is cute as a duck, reads bell hooks, ran Ladybomb Distro and apparently enjoys But I'm a Cheerleader. The DSG song "Femmenstruation Liberation" was about toxic tampons and smashing the state.

Switchblade Kittens
These SxE & feminist Kittens are still around, kind of, and have added "My Dad's a Janitor" to their back catalogue, which already includes "Ode to Harry Potter" and "All Cheerleaders Die." Say what you will about their song structures and Shonen Knife cartoon aesthetic--this band is the real fucking deal. "You'd Be So Pretty If" is every bit as urgent, essential, and oh-my-god-why-hasn't-anybody-ever-done-a-song-about-this-before as "Double Dare Ya" and "Suck My Left One."

Another Teenbeat phenom. I played them on my radio show like they were going out of style...and um, they were. But The Pink Album is lyrical gold. No, platinum. To wit: "She's a latex dominatrix/ her rubber bras are made by Playtex/ the men hand over their paychecks/ to ride her down the road/ to safe sex...just because she's for hire/ doesn't mean there' s nothing to admire/ it's clear no fear for all of these years because/ no man can truly buy her." Melissa Farris was in Dame Fate for a while, but they just broke up this summer.

To say nothing of the Bangs, Frumpies, Peechees, Emily's Sassy Lime, and all 6,000 rocktastic KRS bands now surfing the permanent hiatus wave. Until any of these bands resurrect themselves or produce love children with Jenny Toomey, and while Partyline and Spider & the Webs are touring Europe, to treat withdrawal I prescribe liberal application of obscure YoYo comps and Bald Rapunzel 7 inches. If all else fails, check out an amazing Minneapolis band called Coach Said Not To and their song "Words That I Employ"-- it's guaranteed to cure what ails you.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Everybody get random

Waiting for the bus today, bench-sharer asks what my nationality is. I stall, genuinely nonplussed, "Uh..." He offers, "Bohemian?" and laughs so that I think it's some kind of dig at my clothes/age/general appearance. But no, he actually means Bohemia, as in the region of Germany. Dude is nice, so we breeze-shoot until the number 8 pulls up and I get on, and he guesses my age at "18 or 19." I realize I am officially over being offended by people thinking I look this young, seeing as how my footwear of choice have soles of about .001 in. and boost my full height to knee-high to a fire hydrant.

Turns out Lady Sovereign goes through this all the time, and shares my towering 5"1'-itude. Although how old is she, actually? Eighteen, offish, yeah, but who's to say she's not really 13...or 30? And why is it that, having broken stateside this year or whenevs, grime feels over already? All it needs is David La Chapelle and his "high octane" docsploitation and it'll be deep-sixed as a legitimate underground movement in no time! Which will suck, because one of the best things about grime as a genre was that it didn't have either "post-" or "neo-" in it.

I wish I could set up some kind of Lady Sov-M.I.A. compare-and-contrast action, even though M.I.A. is not true grime, because of the two of them, only M.I.A. is at all marketable as a booty-baring model/fashionista, and she's the one poised to tear up the U.S. media, not Sov, whose unwavering commitment to baggy tracksuits promises to keep her obscure, Jay-Z collaboration or no. Just look at the Galang and Bucky Done Gun videos. In terms of video-disseminated self-image she could go either way, planting her feet in the Wynne Greenwood/Le Tigre experimentalism of Galang or riding the chainlink fence humping of Bucky into jerk-off billboard diva superstardom.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Oh, dirty river

For some outlandish reason, my abilities to read the Iliad in Greek and summarize Foucault's repressive hypothesis (and incitement to discourse!) have not translated into marketable job skills, and I am still Unemployed 'N Angsty in Minneapolis. Every day I hit the streetz and plod, carless, out of Prospect Park and across the mighty Mississip into the Seward n-hood, going door-to-door with my charming intro line, "Do you happen to know if you're hiring right now?" Yesterday I wandered into a pottery studio where a bunch of punky art kids were setting up a show and listening to the Ramones. I wanted to throw my arms around their knees and wail, "Please! Adopt me! I'll be yr slave, yr personal back scratcher, just let me stay here with you and be yr friend!" Instead I pulled it together, hit up more businesses for apps and shook my fist at the downtown Mnpls skyline from the middle of the East River Road bridge, shouting, "Employ me, damn you! Employyy meeee!"

Maybe I picked the wrong Prospect Park?

Friday, September 02, 2005

I don't rock hard enough

(sucked, suck·ing, sucks)
v. intr.
1. To draw something in by or as if by suction: felt the drain starting to suck.
2. To draw nourishment; suckle.
3. To make a sound caused by suction.
4. Vulgar Slang. To be disgustingly disagreeable or offensive.
5. To move to a city where you don't know anybody and have no way to get around; to spend weeks and $$$ getting ready for a job interview, to totally put yr heart and soul into said interview and give it all you have and get rejected anyway; to be living in a room without any furniture w/o the hope of ever acquiring any and sleep on the floor every night, and not in a cool punk rock way, but in a spinal injury way; to have yr box full of books lost in the mail and be told it will never be found; to realize yr love for music & feminism is worth jack shit, and that you're probably never going to get to do something you like, let alone believe in passionately, for a living.
6. To complain about yr life when it has not been completely destroyed by a hurricane.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The covers issue

How bad is the Fiery Furnaces cover of "Norwegian Wood"? All I know is that its badness is easily eclipsed by the Nouvelle Vague cover of "Guns of Brixton," which is the ass-wonkedest drivel blue ribbon winner of this and yesteryear. Being annoyed by this version of the song feels strangely purposeless and post facto, since people have been grousing that the Clash appropriated reggae through it for more than 20 years. Getting yr dander up b/c Nouvelle Vague are just now buffing it to a fine bossa nova sheen could be seen as too little late.

Still, though, lining up one of Collin & Libaux's Pretty Ladies to sex-purr, "you can crush us/ you can bruise us/ yes, even shoot us" neuters the original politics of the song to such a palm-to-forehead, context-draining extent that all you can do while listening is wonder if maybe it really is time to have that cavity filled. And the sketchiest thing of all is that this seems to be the point of the entire Nouvelle Vague project, i.e., rounding up some young (read: stupid) female (read: pure, innocent) vocalists, throwing them in a studio with canonical 80s dance/goth/punk/pop and laughing at the irony that ensues. Some mod French babe butchering the Dead Kennedys! Hilarious!

What Nouvelle Vague don't seem to know is that there are only so many legit reasons to cover a song. Three, actually.

Reason to do a cover #1: MAKING A BAD SONG GOOD
This category includes all tracks, as previously blogged, wherein women cover the dino-core songbook and make them queer/feminist, but also things like Clem Snide's Xtina-redeeming "Beautiful."

Reason to do a cover #2: MAKING A GOOD SONG GREAT
Remember when Bratmobile did the Misfits' "Where Eagles Dare"? That was this. Also, the These Bones cover of "Toxic," which is sadly unavailable now but far superior to Local H's Nirvana clone shlock-a-thon version (really, wait for the chorus).

Reason to do a cover #3: SHOWING THAT A BAD SONG IS, ACTUALLY, BAD
Paul Anka Sinatrafying "It's My Life" and anything ever touched by the Moog Cookbook.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Why, shall we turn to men?

Oh my god. Is the Nile flowing backwards? Did Fugazi sign to Arista? Something is seriously altered and effed up somewhere in the unvierse today because I saw the Michael Radford "Merchant of Venice" and couldn't find the queer subtext. Every critic this side of Camille Paglia swooned that it had homoeroticism spilling out of every last extra's doublet and lute arpeggio on the soundtrack, and all I got was Jeremy Irons looking alternately resigned and wistful. Philip French promised me Irons as "a sad, rheumy-eyed old queen," for fuck's sake, but he just wasn't. Some subtle early sparks, and that promising bedroom snog, and then nothing. And this is coming from me, remember, a person who can find the queer subtext in an empty bag of Doritos. It sucks 'cause there's just so much there to draw on; even played traditionally, Antonio and all of "Merchant" are gay as yr uncle. I mean, check the first seven lines:

ANT. In sooth, I know not why I am so sad.
It wearies me, you say it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn.
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me
That I have much ado to know myself.

Yeah. Uh-huh. Cf. like whoa The Picture of Dorian Gray, Chapter 2:

To realise one's nature perfectly--that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one's self...The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.

And I'm not even going to get into the Jewishness-as-queerness reading, which totally works, or the Portia-Nerissa relationship, or the fact that this play has more mysteriously motivated cross-dressing than a college football team kegger. I guess I'ma just have to see Callas Forever instead.

Friday, August 19, 2005

A weapon/ we must use/ in our defense

DC-area Goodwills are the thrift retailers of champions. Not only do they generously proffer yr typical multiple copies of Synchronicity, Tapestry, & the complete works of REO Speedwagon, they will also cough up the Dead Milkmen, Roxy Music, Tommy & Substance on cassette for $.50 ea. in return for a few minutes' worth of crouching on a dirty floor and blocking the always-crowded paperbacks/video aisle. I got Beauty and the Beat on vinyl because, y'know, it's an important record--Return to the Valley of the Go-Gos is grittier and more interesting for punk histori-fans, but Beauty was the first #1 rec written and performed by a lady band (factcheck me in She's A Rebel) so it's a nice thing to have around as, like, physical evidence of the music industry's not-too-distant sexist jerkwad past. 1981 is way late, dudes. Also, Belinda Carlisle totally used to drum for the Germs.

On Thursday (last week) I did my last radio show. It was like The Last Picture Show, only with much less naked Cybill Shepherd. I played On the Outside and Sevenwhateverteen, during both of which I got more than a little close to crying, and said goodbye to the surf rock DJ with the show before mine, who gave me his best wishes and a business card with a picture of a wave and "Tsunami Soul" on it. That kid was alright. We bonded over the sad lack of in-station Gang of Four and sub-zero studio temps. GAFTMG, RIP.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Go go gadget teenage underground

Ian Svenonius accounts for electro & neo-psych-folk by way of Alan Greenspan. Nice to see somebody acknowledging that even the punkest and indiest musical mov'ts don't press their 7 inches in an economic vaccuum. It's all so original and thought-provoking I'ma forego all the obvious Sassiest Boy snark tactics. That segment on the Make-up in Songs for Cassavetes, though, wherein a 1997-era Svenonius rants, poker-faced, about using shows to bring the gospel to his congregation--that was the scariest, funniest, most wait-is-this-actually-a-Rob-Reiner-mockumentary moment of the film, outdoing even all those low-angle shots of a (purposefully?) unlit Calvin Johnson that made him seem like a lurking, shadowy misanthrope, a la the phantom of the opera, or Dr. Claw on Inspector Gadget.

Also off the K Recs radar, the PDX community continued to break new territory for awesome on Monday by doing a benefit show for Beth Ditto, who has no health insurance to pay her recent hospital bills. I hope things like this happen in Minneapolis, to where I am moving myself in two weeks. One of my future Minn. housemates is in the band Spaghetti Western, who are totes lovely and you should listen to right now. B/c of the moving process and the way it has been forcing me to spend most of my waking hours in airports and post offices, blog action may slow just a bit. For now I am back in the Arlington-DC corridor, trying not to get upset by the fact that my hometown neighborhood has become a Cheesecake Factoried, Williams Sonomaed, beer-flooded dystopia with more denim bars than music stores or flea markets.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Hungry like the Wolfe

The Partyline show at the Beachland tavern last night was sad and a half. I had thought all the old Bratmobile fans would come out, but they didn't. Or rather, they did, but they consisted entirely of me and Sara. So Allison Wolfe is up there in her "Fuck Bush" short shorts doing splits and high kicks and talking about Ralph Nader and cicadas and smart girls and feminism and leaving the dishes in her sink at home in DC before going on tour, and there are maybe 15 people on the floor. I kept glancing around as if to say, "Dudes, get off yr bar stools and show some respect!" It was a Tuesday night, and the first date of the tour, and Partyline only got their debut EP out a couple months ago. Still, though, their jams are raucous and rare and A. Wolfe is a one-lady musical institution/national treasure. Attention must be paid. Their tour hits every city in the western hemisphere (Euro dates w/ Spider & the Webs!), so show up and compliment Angela on her tiara.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I know I can dance

Have you ever willed something into existence with your subconscious mind?

After months of devoted daily listening, slogging through show after show of hardline evangelist Christians and Civil War surgery experts with only the occasional Donovan or Jeanne Moreau or Marianne Faithfull to break things up, Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein were on Fresh Air. One minute I’m sitting at my desk, tracking down the museum acquisiton numbers of ancient Greek pots for my research job and singing “Sold Out” to myself, and the next they're on and I’m scrambling around on the carpet trying to position my little Sony radio so it’s at the one spot on the floor where it picks up the NPR station without static.

I know Fresh Air is all big and national and everything, but it feels like my show, and Terry Gross is my lady, so to have the three of them together was like a feminist media summit/dream come true. Terry did call Janet “Janice,” though, which was a shame, and quoted Spin a lot more than was necessary. She managed to slide in a few quasi-musicial and performance-related questions, and for someone who’s been spending the summer sitting on her bed with her guitar picking out riffs from The Woods, this was really exciting.

Why do some people need to have heroes? Why do I need to construct these icons—these women—for myself to believe in who are braver and stronger and more confident and nimble-fingered than me? Because really, all it takes is one tremolo or one eyes-closed scream at a show and all of the old kill yr idols, worship-the-music-not-the-musician gospel is stone-cold breathless dead in my heart and replaced by the malingering, naive trust that This Lady Is Somehow Like Me, loves music the way I do and does all the things I’d do myself if I weren’t so shy and scared.

There is a manifesta about queer fandom to be written here. I think Mimi Nguyen may have written it already but I can’t track it down. If you know of anything, let a sister know. This weekend I am going to Minneapolis to humbly ask that fair city if it will adopt me and generally be kinder and gentler than Chicago was a month ago. Pray, y’alls, pray.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Hey Goo, what's new?

(genuine Old West flavor, now with fewer brandings!)

Werner Herzog was on Fresh Air on Thursday and blew my mind talking about alienation and futility and the ecstasy of truth in art. I nodded so hard I got whiplash and the kittens stared at me. People have been comparing stuff to Safe for a long time, but Herzog's Grizzly Man is the real deal--Haynes' staring contest with loneliness and quixotic questing transplanted into the Alaskan forest. Herzog in this latest incarno also reminds me of Lars von Trier, only without the bloodlust for persecuted female protagonists. Which creeps me out.

Ladyfest is a-rockin' in Oly-town, right this second. See July 13th post for details & linkages.

Who would've thought the Sugarcubes were Iceland's late-80s college rock answer to Bloomsbury? If you love but sometimes have trouble remembering, as I do, exactly how the Duncan Grant/Clive Bell/Lytton Strachey side of that particular social dodecahedron mapped out, puzzle yr noodle with this one. Click, admire rare group pic, scroll for brainteaser bio.

Maria Raha's awesomely-named Cinderella's Big Score: Women of the Punk and Indie Underground came out way back in January but hasn't gotten too much publicity for some reason. Raha also had a piece in the old Seal Press anthology Young Wives' Tales (in spite of its alarming chick-lit jacket design, said anth was actually not so bad, and queer-inclusive, as I recall).

Inga Muscio's autobiography! Out! Now! Only it's not so much a true autobiography as it is Cunt: Part Deux zeroed in on race and revisionist history.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Ethic of caring less

At work I am archiving photos & press re: the Puget Sound Women's Peace Camp, 1984-1986 (Seal Press did a book on said camp called We Are Ordinary Women), and it occurs to me that, as suspected but never confirmed, all contemporary hipster haircuts originate in 1984. Seriously, if you teleported some of these women out of the photos and into the offices of Troubleman, they'd have an EP out and be up on Cobra Snake within 10 minutes.

Leafing through the May 1984 issue of Off Our Backs, which is off-gassing like whoa after 20 years in storage in a deathly acidic box, it also occurs to me that I hate Carol Gilligan so much because, on some level, I think she might be mostly right. And I don't want her to be. All that generalizing just makes me hella nervous...I mean, it's one thing to have theories about different kinds of ethics, and to point out that some are about fairness and some are about inclusion. But when you start gendering them, it just gets so screwy so fast. If boys want to be fair/just, and girls want to be nice/inclusive, what do you do with the boys who want to be nice and the girls who want to be fair? Do they not count? As a theory it completely fails to deal with outliers--in fact, ignoring outliers is what makes it work, and since I like my feminism to be all about accomodating and recooping outliers, I have never been partial. Kate Bornstein would totes defend me here, I'm thinkin'.

The (2nd) Pitchfork Ryan Adams interview is real, real funny and so, so worth reading. It's how music interviews should be but almost never are: anecdotal, kinetic, specific--fulla conjecture & breeze-shooting & theorizing & fan-fessing, not, "On this album I wanted to do something different" and "It's important to me to always push myself musically." Best moment is "the Ryman" (Adams' name for himself...?) explaining how Pavement & Daydream Nation birthed emo.

I am taking care of two kittens for the next week. They don't seem too interested in my guitar, but they love my Latin dictionary, hiding under my bed, and sitting on my window ledge watching the cars go by. Right now they are sleeping like the kitty dead, limbs splayed, paws outstretched, motionless save for the rhythmic swells of tiny, furry ribcages.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Cherchez le context

I went on a pilgrimage today, like some kind of punk rock Wife of Bath. Only the Wife of Bath is already pretty punk rock to begin with. And I definitely haven't had five housbondes at chirche dore. And instead of going to Canterbury I went to Cleveland. But I totally could have worn a kirtle.

I took a bus and then a train and then a trolley to get to the closest movie theater in my area that is playing Me and You and Everyone We Know. The turnout was pretty robust considering the heavy competition from penguins and ballroom-dancing youths. I did an okay job of keeping the snob reflex in check, even when the woman behind me said to her companion, "This is her first film, you know." I did not overreact and turn around and point out, "Well actually, this is only her first full-length. Miranda July did not just emerge fully formed out of the seafoam of Sundance and Cannes. This movie, like her other art, has a context and a history and a resonance with things outside itself. It has a past and an evolution and a milieu and a long personal chronology of struggle and development and influence and all of that good stuff, so please get yr facts straight or go to KRS or EMP Live or something."

Meanwhile, back in the lady ghetto, Sarah Dougher has started a new record label and no one seems to care ('cept Neumu and Julianne Shepherd). It's releasing her new record--you know, the one that was supposed to be based on the Odyssey?--and Sara Jaffe's extra-Errata solo rocker, too.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

All tomorrow's boxsets

While I was reshelving my stuff in the pop vault after my show (an hour longer than usual b/c I was subbing) the next DJ, doing a Gravy Train!!! friends 'n influences theme, put on Annie (Me Plus One), and the metal director who was in the studio at the time asked,

"Hey, are you playing 80s?"
"No, actually, this is new. It just came out."
"Oh. ( a pause) Well, it sounds like the 80s, man."

Ah, Annie. Such is yr power.

Then Iggy Pop was on Fresh Air, hawking A Million in Prizes, and I Wanna Be Your Dog sounded so contemporary it was scary. Like it was written and recorded this morning. Iggy/Jim is so ironic and smart. I had a hunch b/c of Coffee & Cigarettes, but seriously, he used the word "inchoate." He wheedled in a falsetto, "Oh, I must go, I've just cut myself with glass! Do buy my greatest hits!" What did he talk about? Oh, you know--tribal behavior and its possible application to rock shows, Anglo-Saxon country clubism, Nico's sex tips, Balinese gamelan--the usual.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Ladyfest Oly II

Apparently someone is asleep at the Pogo Princess newsdesk, because I did not find out until this morning that Olympia is doing another Ladyfest this month, July 28-31. Scheduled performers include everyone I love, their mom, and their mom's mom. Potential wkshoppers, be aware of the fact that, in order to participate in Dame Darcy's doll-making workshop, you need to bring with you "at least 2, ideally 4" toaster ovens. A poor lady's Melora Creager she is not.

Despite the fact that I can totes not go, I am pleased nonetheless to be alerted to the existence not only of Tobi Vail's new band, but of an Oly trio called Mind Your Pig Latoya, surely the greatest hickster chic band name since the Be Good Tanyas.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Mean G/girls

Why is trying to move to Chicago, for me, always like trying to run through an invisible brick wall? The Live in Chi-Town Plan 2005, much like its late predecessor, LiCTP 2003, has blown up into a big fiery ball of death, thanks to my ex-housemates-to-be and their seventh gradeian ditching of yrs truly. No amount of dancing into furniture to the Cold Cold Hearts/Call the Doctor/Rid of Me is going to take away the punched-in-the-gut awfulness of it all.

While I'm trying to figure out what the hell to do now, please read this awesome Marxist-feminist analysis of Mean Girls, mean girls, straight girls who make out w/ each other, and the late capitalist networks that enable them. B/c of recent personal experience, meanness btw. girls isn't feeling mythic right now so much as terribly, terribly real, but it still makes hella sense.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The quality of mercy is not Chicago

Supermarket Sweep-style road tripping to a huge city to find a place to live in 6 hrs. is easy! Just pack the following to protect yrself along the way:

-The Color Purple, convenient travel-size mini-hardback edition
-Dvorak Serenades for strings, ops. 22 & 24
-Venus zine no. 24
-16 homemade mint chocolate chip cookies

I'll race you to Chi-town! First one back alive gets to shower!