Monday, January 11, 2016

RIP David Bowie


Oh, You Pretty Things - we've lost one of rock's biggest icons, David Bowie. He died at age 69, two days after his birthday and the release of his 25th studio album, Blackstar, after an 18-month struggle with cancer.

Much like his ever-changing personas, he was a force of nature too hard to nail down. For me, each part of Bowie helped shape my current taste in music, film, theater, even fashion. As I already loved musicals, seeing Labyrinth was no stretch for me, however the sexual awaking that happened was a total surprise. Seeing his name flash on the screen during each viewing of The Breakfast Club made my teenage life so much more manageable. The meaning of an icon is having no shame in the life you lead.

Once while visiting San Francisco, I picked up a used copy of a biography called Bowie: Loving the Alien by Christopher Sanford on a whim. I already loved reading music biographies, but this one was different. Being published in 1998 it was a little outdated, but learning the history of Bowie's childhood and rise to rock god fame was more than enough to propel my fandom to a whole new level. After learning that nearly everyone in his family had schizophrenia, I came to believe that Bowie probably had a touch of it too; but he was able to successfully channel it into creating new and exciting characters to explore throughout his career. It's just a theory, but he never minded speculation.

Each song, each album, each performance is tied to a great memory for me. "Oh, You Pretty Things" always makes me think of driving with Carrie Sue singing at the top of our lungs. When I sneak onto the rooftop of my office building, I pass a store called "Sound & Vision" and instantly hear that great guitar riff. No Broadways 80's Dance Night or karaoke night could ever end without "Let's Dance" or "Rebel, Rebel" coming on. And who can forget how "Fame" busted back on the scene when it was remixed for Pretty Woman. Yep. That happened, and its really weird. It's also in Copycat. But anyway...  

Let's put his music aside shortly and discuss his other passions. Art and literature. The man loved to read. So - as Queen Bitch, let me request that we be a couple of Kooks, and salute The Man Who Sold the World by digging into his Must Read Books. May we all continue Loving the Alien through his music and favorite works of literature.


The Age of American Unreason, Susan Jacoby, 2008
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz, 2007
The Coast of Utopia (trilogy), Tom Stoppard, 2007
Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945, Jon Savage, 2007
Fingersmith, Sarah Waters, 2002
The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens, 2001
Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder, Lawrence Weschler, 1997
A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1890-1924, Orlando Figes, 1997
The Insult, Rupert Thomson, 1996
Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon, 1995
The Bird Artist, Howard Norman, 1994
Kafka Was The Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir, Anatole Broyard, 1993
Beyond the Brillo Box: The Visual Arts in Post-Historical Perspective, Arthur C. Danto, 1992
Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, Camille Paglia, 1990
David Bomberg, Richard Cork, 1988
Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom, Peter Guralnick, 1986
The Songlines, Bruce Chatwin, 1986
Hawksmoor, Peter Ackroyd, 1985
Nowhere To Run: The Story of Soul Music, Gerri Hirshey, 1984
Nights at the Circus, Angela Carter, 1984
Money, Martin Amis, 1984
White Noise, Don DeLillo, 1984
Flaubert’s Parrot, Julian Barnes, 1984
The Life and Times of Little Richard, Charles White, 1984
A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn, 1980
A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole, 1980
Interviews with Francis Bacon, David Sylvester, 1980
Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler, 1980
Earthly Powers, Anthony Burgess, 1980
Raw (a ‘graphix magazine’) 1980-91
Viz (magazine) 1979 –
The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels, 1979
Metropolitan Life, Fran Lebowitz, 1978
In Between the Sheets, Ian McEwan, 1978
Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, ed. Malcolm Cowley, 1977
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes, 1976
Tales of Beatnik Glory, Ed Saunders, 1975
Mystery Train, Greil Marcus, 1975
Selected Poems, Frank O’Hara, 1974
Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s, Otto Friedrich, 1972
In Bluebeard’s Castle: Some Notes Towards the Re-definition of Culture, George Steiner, 1971
Octobriana and the Russian Underground, Peter Sadecky, 1971
The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll, Charlie Gillete, 1970
The Quest For Christa T, Christa Wolf, 1968
Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock, Nik Cohn, 1968
The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov, 1967
Journey into the Whirlwind, Eugenia Ginzburg, 1967
Last Exit to Brooklyn, Hubert Selby Jr., 1966
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote, 1965
City of Night, John Rechy, 1965
Herzog, Saul Bellow, 1964
Puckoon, Spike Milligan, 1963
The American Way of Death, Jessica Mitford, 1963
The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea, Yukio Mishima, 1963
The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin, 1963
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess, 1962
Inside the Whale and Other Essays, George Orwell, 1962
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark, 1961
Private Eye (magazine) 1961 –
On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious, Douglas Harding, 1961
Silence: Lectures and Writing, John Cage, 1961
Strange People, Frank Edwards, 1961
The Divided Self, R. D. Laing, 1960
All The Emperor’s Horses, David Kidd, 1960
Billy Liar, Keith Waterhouse, 1959
The Leopard, Giuseppe Di Lampedusa, 1958
On The Road, Jack Kerouac, 1957
The Hidden Persuaders, Vance Packard, 1957
Room at the Top, John Braine, 1957
A Grave for a Dolphin, Alberto Denti di Pirajno, 1956
The Outsider, Colin Wilson, 1956
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell, 1949
The Street, Ann Petry, 1946
Black Boy, Richard Wright, 1945

Friday, December 18, 2015

2015 - Top Songs

What a year! 2015 had me exploring old favorites such as Father John Misty, Sleater-Kinney, and Alabama Shakes, as well as new comer Leon Bridges - who's take on soul is truly stunning. Between him and last year's favorite Benjamin Booker, I'm pretty impressed by these two 26 year-old Southern gents. Also top of my list - fast favorites Tame Impala, Courtney Barnett, Kurt Vile, Nathaniel Rateliff, Stufjan Stevens... well, you'll see some more below. I also squeezed in some time for hip-hop favs Missy Elliot, Rihanna, and Jersey's finest one-eyed weirdo Fetty Wap.

A few others hit my top list when I heard their album, but shattered to pieces after seeing them live (here's looking at you kid - Alex G and Viet Cong). Oh well, nobody's perfect. I got to see some amazing live music this year too, despite missing out on some greats due to sold out shows and stupid Stub Hub pricing. Israel Nash was a hoot; as was Sleater-Kinney, Mac DeMarco, Future Islands, Hozier, Ex Hex, Courtney Barnett, Father John Misty, and last but not least, The Donkeys!    

Enjoy my lovelies.

Father John Misty - 'When You're Smiling and Astride Me'


Stunning. Christine and the Queens - 'Saint Claude'


Leon Bridges - 'The River'


Alabama Shakes - 'Shoegaze'


Royal Headache - 'Wouldn't You Know'



Will Butler - "Anna" 


Kurt Vile - 'Pretty Pimpin'


Sia - 'Eye of the Needle'


Sufjan Stevens - 'Death with Dignity'


Courtney Barnett - 'Aqua Profunda!'


And And And - 'A Real Case of the Blues'



Eszter Balint - 'Departure Song'


Deerhunter - 'Snakeskin'


Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats - 'Thank You'



Jason Isbell - 'If It Takes a Lifetime' 


Tame Impala - 'The Less I Know the Better'



Ought - 'Beautiful Blue Sky'



Sleater-Kinney - 'Bury Our Friends'


Fetty Wap - '679'



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

If You Want a Review: Father John Misty - 'I Love You, Honeybear'

If you want to discuss the difference between Josh Tillman and his alter-ego Father John Misty, Pitchfork will take you into the depths of that.

If you want to hear about how this album came together straight from the horse's mouth, DIY Mag covers that and then some before reining it in.

If you want to dig deep into the theories about why this album fucking works, Sterogum named I Love You, Honeybear album of the week.

If you are interested in a brief artist comparison to why we can so easily love this sophomore effort, Rolling Stone is your bag. Or if you want a more intense list of artistic influences, head over to Consequence of Sound. Dear god, even the NY Times casually reviewed this shit.

If you only care about how Tillman expounds on the theme of love, The Guardian sums it up glibly with, "He’s a prolific guy, Tillman."

If you want to know more about not just the theme, but the love itself and the idea to write about, go back to 2013 when Maxwell's was still open and Spin Magazine may have paid someone to get really fucking high.

If you are uncomfortable with intimacy in your lyrics, so is Billboard. (Pussies).

If you think it's too polished, unlike Fear Fun, Pop Matters suggests that he misses the grit, but I'd be remiss to agree.

If you want to get into the right head space to listen to it for the first time, please, PLEASE read Tim Showalter's review on The Talkhouse. Then you'll understand why "that iceberg is hilarious" and why this album is so goddamn amazing.

What ever you do, just listen to it, and then cry with me about the fact that both his shows in NYC are sold out.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Need A Lover

It's all just too much sometimes. I came across the Hamilton Leithauser cover of John Cougar's "I Need a Lover,"and just had to laugh. Not because the cover is no good, but because it reminded me so much of an ex that used to send my heart racing. I laughed because for the first time in years about this man; and even wished we still knew each other because I think he would have gotten a kick out of this and I wanted to share it.

Leithauser is the former lead singer of The Walkmen, who I was introduced to sometime in 2006/7 by the aforementioned ex. As John Cougar (Melloncamp)/Leithauser sings, "I need a lover who won't drive me crazy," I just got it, man. This former lover drove me crazy; but he also gave me orgasms I can (still) hardly shake off, songs I always sing along to, and enough cringe-worthy, mid-twenties angst to make a 90's Rom-Com from my diary entries alone. If only he hadn't broken my heart in that process, I might hunt him down and share this madness.

Oh well, I guess it's just for you.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Personal Pop Culture Hell


If I were to end up in Hell, which is likely, considering I am a heathen who abandoned my Catholic faith, and has "sinned" unceremoniously for many, many years, my Personal Pop Culture version (as inspired by The A.V. Club) would include one of the following:

People talking loudly during a movie that I have been really excited about seeing in the theater, and/or at a concert that I'm trying to enjoy. I mean, seriously, why did you bother coming to this darkened room with a projection screen/live performance just to catch up about your ex boyfriend's stupidity? Go get drunk at home and talk about your problems with a nice, uninterrupted iTunes session or Netflix rerun. I will give you the sideways stare, or shush you with no regrets. If the Devil exists and has as little mercy as suspected, I wouldn't be able to even do that.  


Thursday, May 15, 2014

[SoftD] - 'She Smiled Sweetly' - The Rolling Stones



Between the Buttons is hardly a hard rocking Stones album such as the likes of Exile, but the pensive, softer, and even sad sound is a force to be reckoned with (if not wrestled with) none-the-less. This album was released in the UK and the US in 1967 as almost completely different albums. 'Let's Spend the Night Together' and 'Ruby Tuesday' appeared in the US release, with the latter going on to reach #1 on the charts.

You may remember 'She Smiles Sweetly' from The Royal Tenenbaums. It's the scene in the tent where Richie checks himself out of the hospital after attempting suicide and comes home to tell Margo he loves her. This song is the perfect soundtrack to this moment. 

Richie says, "I can't stop thinking about you. I went away for a year and it only got worse." And Mic, in turn sings, "Why do my thoughts bloom so large on me? / They seem to stay, for day after day / And won't disappear, I've tried every way."

It's never easy to let go of someone who touches you so deeply, especially if the love seems forbidden, or doomed in some way. I guess I chose this song today because I am trying to be a person who can smile sweetly without breaking someone's heart in the process.          

Thursday, May 8, 2014

[SoftD] - 'Father Figure' - George Michael

In a dramatic turn from Tuesday's SoftD, today I felt compelled to listen to George Michael's epic album Faith. Specifically, 'Father Figure'. Like any good late 80's album, Faith is both overly-dramatic and fantastic, sexy yet serious, and full of lyrical quests for love and identity. George Michael seems to want to both teach and to be taught, and somehow the synthesizers blend in naturally with the soft, strong sound of his voice. 


In the late 80s and early 90s, George Michael ruled the MTV scene. Around that time I discovered that my taste in music was as much influenced by my need to rebel as my need to understand who or what I was rebelling against and why. Like most teenage girls, I spent my time filled with angst; anxious to hurry on through the process of being a child to being an adult, and reign in my emotional and sexual state of mind. On top of that, I had to let go of the main man in my life, my Dad, in order to make room for the men I would eventually date and love. 

It was a long and arduous process, and I spent years thinking I hated my Dad - writing countless, candlelit journal entries about it. When I discovered 'Father Figure', I wasn't trying to replace my father, but rather I envisioned being taken in by a man and taken care of. Ironically, much like my dad had been doing for years.

Maybe it's way too Freudian, but understanding George Michael's use of the term 'father figure' as an allegory for his hunt to find the kind of love and support you would have in that relationship, but this time in your lover sort of blew my mind. I'd like to think that my tiny hand will fit into his, whoever he may be, without having to bring my Dad into it, but let's get real. Every man I will ever date will inevitably have to contend with the fact that I've spent most of my life understanding men through understanding my Dad. Sorry ladies, but there it is. I'm even so much like him that I could be a goddamn father figure if someone needed me to be. But I digress. Get back to George Michael, and try not to think about Michael Cera when you do so.