Thursday, August 17, 2017

What Dreams May Come - 2017 in Review

It's 2017 and I'm two weeks away from turning 36. What has 35 been like for me? 

I started this year with brain surgery. I endured hardship, pain, fear, humiliation, depression, anxiety, unexpected weight loss, recovery, so much sleep, support, friendship, family, and what felt like the end of an era. Will I never have a seizure again? That is the goal. I took a month off my “normal” life to heal before traveling to places near and far to a take part in and celebrate a long list of weddings. 

First stop — San Diego, for Tiffany and Jason. Where I thought I’d found my own long lost love. In the months to come, I went south to watch old friends embrace new love. In Chattanooga with Aaron and Lindsay (#hoodgoeslong), Asheville with Karen and Darren (where we all bawled our eyes out #MacOlsens), and Harpers Ferry even, for Ceci and Brian (#yesfest). Between live bands, midday rivers, and late-night ribs, I continued to hold onto hope that I was on my way to a new found place. 

Turns out, flings aren’t reserved for summertime alone. Immersed in a grey area as obtuse as my own denial, I ignored the riptide — he doesn’t love me enough. Words are meaningless when it's the same old boring story. At least I’ve looked in this mirror before. The heartache is less of a surprise now, but it still hurts as much. The anger, doubled. How did I fall for this again? I cried my eyes out in sadness at my own failure to see the truth that stood before me. 

And then I cried some more as I lived the script of Four Weddings and a Funeral. In June, my Aunt Terri died. She did her best to live and love as much as she could. Without her, I may not have the capacity to never meet a stranger and to make sure my friends all know they are loved. With her guidance, I've been able to build a community in every place I've lived, and each of those friends get to meet and know the others. What's life without a blended family, after all?

So, as I pick my heart up out of the grey, it pushes me forward and I know these storm clouds will pass soon enough. Until then, I sit under my umbrella and focus on the sunshine peeking through. Along with my travels, I spent nights in New Jersey that included idols like Stevie Nicks and The Pretenders. I co-hosted a bachelorette party in Chicago with my best friends. I rode in a minivan full of smiling faces to Pennsylvania for another one a few weeks later. I planned and hosted Ladies Night: A Storytelling Event at Big Irv's that included a transgendered woman in the line up. I saw Wonder Woman and Atomic Blonde and PJ Harvey remembering again that women kick so much ass. I experienced Punderdome and reflected on the awesome capabilities of a few choice words and loud laughter. I sang along to classic hits by Hall & Oates and Tears for Fears in an old stadium in Queens. Later on, fans and I sang along with every lyric from Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. I attended one of the Final Shows at Webster Hall, a New York City venue for the ages just to enjoy the experience. I caught The Figgs, met the band, and made my friend Tim’s year by being a part of that adventure. I won the friend lottery and got to see Hamilton: An American Musical on Broadway in the middle of a work day. I watched in awe as my uncle Tim performed in Linda Vista at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago with a gang of fabulous women. In fact, we are still talking about that play. 

Before the end of the year I will return to the stage to see Maggie Rogers, Ron Gallo, Kevin Mobry, Middle Kids, and Guns n’ motherfuckin' Roses! I will turn 36 shortly after seeing Lady Gaga at MSG and The Princess Bride on the big screen at Nitehawk Cinema, in that order. My best friend Michael is coming to spend the night with me in a tiny house near the beach for our last summer hoorah, and I will host a dance party to celebrate this year and the many years to come. I will make another trip to Chicago to see Brooke marry Nate before turning back to the District of Columbia to enjoy more friends stand tall and declare their love. That marks seven weddings for 2017. PHEW. 

In less romantic, theatrical, and musical moments - I made it to the beaches of North Carolina to soak up the sun with my favorite people and their children. Hard to believe we all met nearly 20 years ago! I stepped foot in the sands of beaches in California, and visited Jacob Riis for the first time in my five years in NYC! As a kid I used to pretend I was a mermaid caught in a pool waiting to be released back to the sea. Looks like I'm still that mermaid who will refuse to stop beaching it until we are all washed away. Maybe one day I'll live on a beach - wouldn't that be something...

With all these things coming up, what is there to wish for in these trying times? I always wish for love, but I think this time I will only wish for things that I can be grateful for. That I am not broken by my experiences and I still have an open heart. That I did not vote for a racist, sexist, xenophobic coward of a man to lead this country to ruin. That I voted for Hillary and that #Iamstillwithher. That I am a Nasty Woman, and that while we still have so much work to do, we have each other to keep moving forward. That I will continue to #resist. That I will not resort to casual, meaningless affairs to soothe my still broken heart because I deserve better. That I will let go of this sadness. That if this is the year of the rooster, then I’ll grab the rest of it by the cock and find a way out of this too. That, my friends, is what reflecting on a year is all about, and I am grateful. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

[SoftD] - Har Mar Superstar - 'Youth Without Love'

Composed (and produced) by Julian Casablancas, "Youth Without Love" is a classic, catchy pop hit, but without all the moody emo shit you maybe used to from The Strokes. By handing over this lost single to Sean Tillman, otherwise known as Har Mar Superstar (and no association with Father John Misty's Josh Tillman), this tune's arc turns away from corny, and heads straight to summer mix. The kind you can't help but listen to on repeat while basking (or baking?) in the sun looking for some love of your own.

Plus, his dancing is entertaining as hell.  Check out the rest of the album, it is fantastic, and features the likes of Karen O.

Monday, February 8, 2016

I Slay, All Day.

In case you haven't heard, Beyonce has dropped her new single "Formation" and it kills. Slays. Blows your mind. Takes Queen Bey to the next level of ambassador for our generation. Fuck the Millennials; this woman goes hard.    

Last night, Beyonce brought the heat to the Super Bowl 50 halftime show, laying waste to side act Coldplay (who clearly did not get the memo to dress in theme colors - gold and black, bitches).  

Even Bruno Mars, who in his own right is a fun performer and great dancer, held no candle to the Queen. Between Beyonce's dramatic, baller entrance and the MJ-inspired dance off, I could hardly feel sorry for bland Chris Martin - he was witnessing true, unmatched talent happening. An inspiration to all of us hoping to put our mark on this world; even if it means saddling up to boring-ass white dudes to make it happen. 

Everyone was worried - yes, lord, worried - about how these two (ahem, three) super stars would join forces to make a halftime show to be remembered. Well, as the New Yorker pointed out, "Would [Beyonce] provide a necessary disruption at the Super Bowl, or would she temper her message for America’s sake? Beyoncé, of course, was able to do both."

The masses have spoken, and already we have a "Bruno Mars and Beyonce ONLY" version of the half time show for you to see just how she made it happen.


She jumped right in, spiting lines from her new tune - no filter necessary. Bey commanded her ladies right into a male-dominated scene and turned it on its head. She's got hot sauce in her bag, like swag, guys! We can't even try to keep up. Outside the power she invoked during her performance, the song and video require even more attention from us. She blends riot gear vibes and Gucci sundries, dirty provocative lyrics, and casual yet dominant declarations such as "I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making." Through the sound, look, and lyrics, Beyonce manages to claim her star-power, her blackness, her femininity, and her Southernness all in one massive swoop. She can't say it enough, so neither will I, it slays

We need her and her message like we need someone with some damn sense to follow Barack Obama into office and continue to change the way we run this damn country. With people like Beyonce, who come to slay, who can dare to speak for us all while still speaking for themselves, we can only hope to keep trying to make things better. Look out for the haters too, they don't like to admit that we're the ones who really run the world (girls). Keep it up, Bey.       

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.