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.