Tag Archives: nick cave

Dull Tableaux

If I were to time travel back to the year 2000 and tell 13-year-old me that she’d get to see The Violent Femmes in concert someday, she would erupt in celebratory expletives and jack up the volume on “Blister in the Sun” (which, naturally, would just happen to be playing on her boom box).  She’d dance like a fool — much like present-day me dances — before going into a sloppy, yet epic air guitar performance.   She’d have no idea that the news was about to get even better.

“Wait,” I would say, “They’re not the only ones playing.  They’re opening for your #1 favorite band.”

13-year-old Steff would stop playing air guitar and her eyes would widen in amazement beneath her perfectly blown-out bangs.

“NO WAY!!!”

13-year-old Steff’s #1 favorite band was Barenaked Ladies.  “One Week” blew her mind in 1998, and so her 44-year-old dad took her to Best Buy one Sunday afternoon and bought her a copy of Stunt.  She loved the entire album from start-to-finish, and thus began her very first mission to obtain every album previously released by a rock (?) group.

“No FUCKING way!” she’d scream before hitting “eject” on her CD player and replacing The Violent Femmes with Born on a Pirate Ship — the darkest, most brooding Barenaked Ladies album to date.

“BROKE INTO THE OLD APARTMENT!” she’d scream along, closing her eyes and collapsing onto her bed.  “THIS IS WHERE WE USED TO LIVE!”

“Bad news,” I would say, interrupting her barenaked reverie.  “Steven Page leaves the band in 2009.”

13-year-old Steff would sit up straight and stare into my eyes and demand an explanation.  I’d tell her about the cocaine arrest, and her face would fall.

“What year do I see them?” she’d ask.

“2015.”

“…How old are we then???”

“Listen,” I would say, “this is also gonna sound really, really weird, but by the time you see them live, you won’t be a super fan anymore.  You won’t even know any of the material that they released after Maroon.

13-year-old me would furrow her brow.

“What’s Maroon?”

“It comes out in a few months.  Mom’ll get it for you.  You won’t like it as much as their other albums, but you’ll appreciate it a lot during the first semester of 8th grade.”

“What the fuck?”

“We will always love and appreciate Barenaked Ladies,” I’d assure her.

A few seconds would go by, and then “Call Me Calmly” would come on.  13-year-old Steff would grab the boom box remote and skip to “Break Your Heart.”  She’d become somber.

“But why are we seeing them in concert if we don’t like their new stuff?”

“Because dad’s client is also playing that night, so tickets were easy to come by.  Also, in recent years we’ve become highly preoccupied with our mortality, and so we’re determined to cram in as many experiences as we can before we die. Seeing The Violent Femmes and Barenaked Ladies in the same night seems very poetic to us.”

13-year-old Steff would take a moment to process everything.  Then she would say, “I like your t-shirt.”

“Thanks,” I would say, admiring her pink Paul Frank kangaroo.  “I like yours too.”

“Spider in My Room” would come on.  13-year-old Steff would skip that song, too.  Then she’d remember that she doesn’t like the end of the album as much as she likes the beginning, and so she’d walk over to the boom box, hit “stop” on the CD player, and then hit “play” on the tape player.  Her hand-me-down copy of Gordon would start up halfway through “Enid.”  She’d do some clumsy fast-forwarding before finally arriving at the beginning of “Brian Wilson.”

“The concert is still gonna be hugely important to you, Steff,” I’d continue.  “That afternoon at work, you’re gonna realize that you’ve been single for exactly two years.  You’re gonna think about all the incredible things you’ve experienced since you were 13 and used to listen to Barenaked Ladies all the time.  You’re gonna actually miss sitting at your desk and doing homework and listening to “What A Good Boy” and thinking about your crushes and crying…”

“Wait,” 13-year-old Steff would say, “are you saying we’re gonna have a boyfriend?”

“Several.”

We would spend several minutes talking about this.  She’d be confused by my tepid attitude toward the whole thing (“REAL boyfriends?!?” “Yup”) and she’d have all kinds of questions about how I got them to like me (“It just happened”).  I’d try to explain to her that it’s important to always be yourself and to never change who you are in order to impress a boy.

“But are they HOT?!” she’d ask.

“Looks don’t mean shit,” I’d say.

“So…they’re ugly?”

“No.  But looks don’t mean shit.”

Finally, I’d tell her about the show.

“You’re going to miss Colin Hay because you’re gonna be sitting on a park bench outside the entrance of the Greek Theater eating a veggie sandwich from Italia Deli.  Mom’s gonna tell you about a dream she had the night before about Nick Cave.”

“Who the fuck is that?” she’d ask.

“Remember that song from Scream about the ‘red right hand’?  He sings that.  And he’s going to become hugely important to you when you’re 25.  Anyway, you’re gonna be kinda tired when you get inside, but then The Violent Femmes are gonna come on, and you’re gonna wake the fuck up.”

“Do we still like The Violent Femmes?”

“Yes,” I’d say.  “We do.  And that album becomes a very important tool we use to determine how much we like new people we meet.”

I’d tell her about the young guy sitting next to dad and how dad’s going to give him a bag of potato chips that mom originally brought for us.  I’d tell her that she’s going to feel compelled to turn toward the guy and ask him questions about what the band has been up to since Maroon and if the new album is any good.

“After you and the guy are done talking about the band, dad is gonna reach into his pocket and hand the guy a backstage pass.”

“We have backstage passes?!”

“Yes, but you’re not gonna use yours,” I’d tell her.  “You’re gonna leave after the show and get stuck in horrible traffic.  But yeah, dad’s client is gonna score dad some passes, and dad is gonna give his away to a kid named Rafa who still really, really loves Barenaked Ladies.  Steff, you’re gonna feel very proud of dad in that moment, and you’re gonna vow to yourself to try to remember that moment next time dad does anything that annoys you.  You’re going to try to remember that dad is a very kind man, and you’re gonna get a little bit teary eyed before the show starts, because you’re also going to be thinking about death.”

13-year-old Steff would sit in silence as she listened to me talk about love and death and backstage passes.  I would almost tell her about how dad is going to test her patience an hour later when the band goes into “One Week” and dad grabs her arm and physically pulls her to him and then shoves her into Rafa while loudly proclaiming, “YOU GOTTA BE NEXT TO RAFA FOR THIS ONE!” but I would ultimately decide to let her face that challenge on her own.

“Also,” I would add, “you’re not gonna like the first song that much.  You’re not gonna hate it, but you’re kinda gonna think, ‘Aw man, this is way too pleasant.  I can’t get into this right now.’  You’re also really, really gonna miss Steven.  You’re gonna think, ‘Fuck, Steven brought the edge.’  And then, after the applause dies down, Ed is gonna launch into ‘The Old Apartment,’ and you are going to lose your breath.  You’re gonna listen to that song, and it’ll be your 200th time hearing it, but you’ll finally understand what it’s about.”

“Death?”

I’d laugh.

“No, not quite.  You’ll get it, though.  And it’s gonna blow your mind.”

“Am I gonna like the rest of the show?”

“Yes,” I’d tell her.  “You’re gonna love it.  But it’s gonna hurt a little.  In a good way.”

13-year-old Steff would remain quiet.  She’d have a lot to think about.  I’d give her a hug, tell her she’s hilarious and beautiful and not to let middle school get her down, and then I’d hop back in my time machine to 2015.

***

Nick Cave once gave a lecture called “The Secret Life of the Love Song” at the Vienna Poetry Festival in 1999.  A certain theme of the lecture swirled through my mind last night during the Barenaked ladies set:

“We all experience within us what the Portugese call Suadade, which translates as an inexplicable sense of longing, an unnamed and enigmatic yearning of the soul.  And it is this feeling that lives in the realms of imagination and inspiration, and is the breeding ground for the sad song, for the Love song is the light of God, deep down, blasting through our wounds.”

This is “the edge.”  This is what I’ve always been drawn to in music, even by groups that also sing “nice” songs about Yoko Ono and what they’d do with $1,000,000.  “Inexplicable longing.”  It’s a powerful thing.

“I know we don’t live here anymore
We bought an old house on the Danforth
She loves me and her body keeps me warm
I’m happy there
But this is where we used to live

Broke into the old apartment
Tore the phone out of the wall
Only memories, fading memories
Blending into dull tableaux

I want them back”

— Barenaked Ladies “The Old Apartment”

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All Apologies

I’m worried about an intimate friend of mine who doesn’t know I exist.  We’ve met before, but there’s no reason for him to remember.  I remember, though.  It was brilliant.

It’s Nick Cave.  I’m worried about Nick Cave.

I was thinking about him this morning during my drive to work.  I was in a real crap mood.  Everything just seemed so bleak and blah and I was being a total brat.  I’ll put it this way: I’ve been listening to a lot of Nirvana lately.  A lot of Nirvana.   I need it.  I’m living off it.  In the morning, when I’m grumpy and groggy and stuck on a crowded, winding freeway, all I want to hear is the MTV Unplugged in New York album.  I’m usually turning onto Melrose Avenue by the time Kurt Cobain starts telling the story about Lead Belly’s guitar.  “I even asked David Geffen personally if he’d buy it for me.”  Kurt, you little punk.

Courtesy of papermag.com

I was feeling very thankful for Kurt this morning as I drove along in my solitary angst — he was making me feel less solitary.  This feeling of gratitude made me think of a different time in my life where I relied on an artist to get me through the day — it was 2012, and I was on my first Nick Cave Bender.  I was unemployed, I was living with my parents, and I had just gotten my hands on a copy of Let Love In.  Something shifted.  I lost and found myself again and again in images of the devil crawling along my floor.

Yes, I realize I sound like an emo kid straight out of 2003 when I say that kinda shit, but I suppose that’s appropriate — I was, after all, depressed and living with my parents.  Nick Cave gave me something to do.  It became imperative to go out and find all of the Bad Seeds albums.  I absolutely had to get my hands on all of the concert DVDs.  I needed to read all the old interviews and watch all the behind the scenes footage I could possibly scrounge from the depths of the information superhighway.  Nick Cave was my comfort and my company.  Creepy?  I dunno.  Maybe?  Not really.  I was just lonely and bored and sad and filling out job applications seemed a lot less meaningless whilst listening to “Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry.”

When Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds announced in November 2013 that they would be coming to Los Angeles the following summer for a show at The Shrine, I immediately set my alarm for 5am so that I could get pre-sale tickets the following day.  Months later, they announced a second show.  It sold out within minutes, but I managed to find a pair of tickets on StubHub for a sum of money I’m not proud of paying.  (I am proud, though.  Secretly.)  A third show was added — a solo one with limited seating — and I busted out my debit card one final time.  In July of 2014, I saw Nick Cave three nights in-a-row, and it was one of the greatest things I’ve ever, ever done.

I did talk to him.  Twice, actually.  The first time was during the Q&A that followed the solo show, and the second time was in the parking lot of The Shrine after the second show.  He had changed out of his sleek black sport jacket and into a blue velour zip-up sweater.  He was busy taking a picture with someone, and when he finished, he turned to face me.  I didn’t do or say anything weird — I just asked if he’d sign my friend’s copy of King Ink.  He instinctively knew to spell her name with one “L.”

I shouldn’t have been looking at my phone this morning, but I was.  I was at a stoplight and I picked up my phone and looked at my Facebook and saw that my friend had sent me an article.  The headline sealed the fate of my day: “Nick Cave’s Teenage Son Arthur Dies After Cliff Fall.”

I threw my phone onto the floor of my car and unleashed a guttural, primal, “NOOOOOOO.”  The light turned green.

“Never look at your fucking phone while driving, Steff,” I thought.  “Never do that again.”

“I know, I know, I shouldn’t,” I answered.  “At least I was at a stoplight.”

“I know.  But don’t do it again.  Ever.”

“I won’t,” I said to myself.  “I promise.”

I meant it.  I do mean it.  Because life is fragile.  How we manage to forget that for such long stretches of time is truly amazing.

When I arrived at the office and parked my car and turned off the engine, I picked up my phone from the floor.  My cousin had also sent me the article.  I read it.  It pretty much repeated what the headline had already summarized.  A cliff.  A fucking cliff.  A 15-year-old boy had died after falling off a cliff.

A few months ago, my younger brother and I saw Nick Cave in Hollywood.  He was there to read excerpts of his new book.  He didn’t sing anything — just talked and read.  We were in the second row and I was ecstatic to just be in the same room as my hero, my caretaker, my girly obsession.  The first thing he read was an excerpt about a little boy walking across a treacherous bridge.  The little boy was him — this was a memory.

Nick Cave’s family was in the audience that night.

https://vimeo.com/122744455

With eerily appropriate timing, my younger brother sent me a message that just said, “Nick Cave’s son  😦 “  Before I could respond, he added, “It’s even sadder thinking back on what Nick was saying at that book reading, about being a kid in Australia walking on bridges and the wives tales about the boys that had fallen off.”

I exited the car.  When I got to my desk and opened up Facebook again, I saw that another one of my cousins had sent me an article about Arthur Cave.

A co-worker appeared in my doorway.  He said, “Hey.”  I turned to face him, and I guess my face said everything — the next words out of his mouth were, “I know.  I read the sad news.  Terrible.”

I sat with the sad news.  I thought about Nick Cave, the dad behind the fierce suit and the sexy, bloody love songs.  I thought about his wife, Susie, the stunning model who gave birth to twin boys 15 years ago.  I thought about Arthur’s twin brother, Earl, and wondered how he must be feeling right now.

Nick Cave, the dad.

I only know Nick Cave’s music.  I don’t know Nick Cave, the dad.  I’m a superfan, not a stalker.  However, being a superfan of another human being’s art is kind of a complicated thing.  How do you give back to an artist whose music has helped you through so much?  Is it even possible?  Perhaps the most efficient and affective way to show respect is by leaving the artist alone — remaining a superfan instead of a stalker.  I suppose a letter is always an option, but, unfortunately, a letter isn’t gonna solve shit.  Not in this case.

I’ll just continue being a superfan.  If he releases another album, I’ll get it.  If he goes on tour again, I’ll see him.  If he makes another movie, I’ll watch it.  If he decides to retire, I’ll support his decision.

I’ll also give my parents huge hugs when I see them tonight.  I suggest you all do the same.  And stop looking at your phones while you’re in the car.  If driving makes you feel anxious or bored or angry, you can always just put on some tunes.  I have a few recommendations.

I’m so, so sorry Nick.

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Someone Else Noticed

Nick Cave wrote another book.  It’s called The Sick Bag Song, and tonight at The Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, he read selections from the book to a live audience.  I was there, of course.  I arrived at 5:45pm and stood in line with all the young goths.  My younger brother arrived at 6:30pm and bought us each a Schlitz.  A security guard came around and asked if we already had tickets.  I nodded that yes, we most certainly did.

“Then why are we in this line?” my brother asked, innocently.

“Because the seats are unassigned.”

“And this starts at…8:00pm?”

I smiled.  He smiled.  I was happy he had agreed to come to something few people would be interested in seeing with me.

I don’t yet own a copy of The Sick Bag Song, but based on what I witnessed tonight, I can confidently describe it as poetic exploration colliding with memoir.  Nick Cave wrote the book during his tour of the United States last year, and, as he said tonight, the narrator is, “A guy who also happens to be on a tour of the U.S. and looks a lot like me.”  Each chapter is titled after a different city visited on the tour, although the chapters aren’t telling a story with a beginning, middle, and end.  At least I don’t think they are.

The selections I heard were mostly depictions of actual events told with Nick Cave’s signature fantastical doom.  In a story about meeting Bob Dylan at Glastonbury, for instance, Nick Cave writes that the torrential rain had formed a lake that separated his trailer from Bob Dylan’s.  Naturally, Bob Dylan climbed into a boat powered by a bag of wind to cross the lake — or as Nick Cave said, “moat” —  and say “hello.”  The boat bit may not have happened, but I have read about Nick Cave meeting Bob Dylan in the rain at Glastonbury. The chapter titled “Los Angeles,” however, is more of a fever dream about a woman on a bed in a hotel in West Hollywood.  The narrator calls himself a “small God,” and then, after the woman raises her “gash” to the sky, the narrator becomes an “erect God.”  Those are the only details I can recall of the writing.  Jim Morrison would have loved it.

(To change things up a bit during the live reading tonight, we were shown a film of Nick Cave reading this chapter.  I admire and adore this man, but there are times where I find him downright hilarious, regardless of whether or not he’s trying to be.  This film was one of those times.)

Nick Cave himself was in a comparatively pleasant mood.  He smiled more than once, and didn’t even get too cross when his headset was having technical difficulties.  “It works for Madonna,” he cracked.  He also seemed very excited to read from his book.  An interviewer sat on the stage with him and asked him questions to keep things moving, and Nick Cave always went back to asking, “Shall I read some more?”

Finally, we reached the Q&A section of the show.  I was at a different Nick Cave Q&A last July, during which he seemed horrified to be the star of the evening.  That night, I managed to summon every bit of courage I had and ever will have, and asked him a question using complete sentences.  He answered it, but I only remember my question and not his answer.  I remember speaking clearly into the microphone and thinking, “Holy shit, I’m not fucking this up!”  When I was finished talking, I steadied myself on the seat in front of me.  My heart was racing and I was sweating underneath my new Free People dress.  “Nick Cave is addressing me,” I thought, as I concentrated on my breath.  According to my dad, who witnessed the entire thing, Nick Cave gave me a very thoughtful answer.

“I think he really appreciated your question,” my dad whispered.  “No one else has asked him anything good.”

I didn’t feel like putting myself through that kind of stress again.  Besides, I still haven’t read The Sick Bag Song.

No one in the audience asked a truly great question this evening either, but Nick Cave did a truly great job of remaining dry and funny as opposed to dry and dour.  Someone asked him about what he said earlier regarding the narrator that “looks a lot like” him, and whether Nick Cave the man is different from Nick Cave the rockstar.  He confirmed, “That just becomes who you are.”

Nick Cave wears fierce suits.  Nick Cave is married to a model.  Nick Cave idolizes Elvis and has not yet quit smoking cigarettes.  This is who he presents to the world, and this is who he is.  Amanda Palmer once wrote a great blog about meeting Nick Cave in a hotel after he had picked up his dry cleaning.  To me, her anecdote authenticates the whole thing.  Nick Cave isn’t being handed a rented suit by a stylist before each show — the suits that transform him from Skinny Australian Guy into Nick Cave are his own Goddamn suits that he drops off at the cleaners.

I wonder how he feels about wire hangers.

More questions went by.  “What’s a movie you saw recently that you loved?”  “I saw that movie ‘Foxcatcher.’  Fucking amazing.”  “How do you feel about music streaming and art no longer being tangible?”  “I have a manager that handles all that.”  “Are there any new bands that you follow?”  “No.”

A young man stood up to ask a question.  He was wearing a red sweatshirt.

“I drove here all the way from Alaska to see you,” he said.  Nick Cave was sweet.  He managed a, “thank you.”  The young man continued, “What I really want is to ask you about Gladiator Part II, but instead I’ll ask you about what you said about being the man versus the mask. Does that get difficult? I mean, Tom Waits does it and he does fine with it, but it killed Hemingway.”

Dorky, for sure.  Not only was he asking a question that had already been answered, he also referenced Nick Cave’s fabled failure of a Gladiator Part II screenplay.  I cringed.

Nick Cave didn’t care about any of that.  Instead, he immediately became serious and snapped, “I don’t wanna say anything about Tom Waits.”  The guy tried repeating the question with greater clarity, but Nick Cave cut him off: “I can’t say anything about Tom Waits.  I don’t wanna go there.”

This absolutely fucking alarmed me.  “I don’t wanna go there”?  Go where?  Is Tom Waits a “there” that you cannot go to, Nick Cave?  What’s the T?  Spill it, Nick Cave!

Earlier in the evening, someone had asked Nick Cave why artists “stop growing.”  He said that he didn’t know because things are “different for everyone.”  Could it have been that Nick Cave didn’t want to speak about Tom Waits because he felt he’d be speaking for Tom Waits?  Or did he want to avoid the subject of Tom Waits at all costs because he was afraid of letting loose and tearing Tom Waits apart?

Nick Cave got quiet again.  “Do you wanna ask a different question?” he said to the young man from Alaska, who replied, “What happened to Gladiator Part II?”  Nick Cave didn’t crack a smile as he said, “That’s between me, Russell Crow, and a trash bin.”

The Q&A ended.  The theater emptied.  My brother and I made our way to our cars.  We were in separate lots on opposite sides of the street, so we hugged on the sidewalk and parted ways.  As I walked toward my car, I spotted the guy from Alaska.  I recognized him instantly, thanks to his red sweatshirt.  He was fishing something out of the back seat of his car.  I decided to talk to a stranger.

“He got really strange at the mention of Tom Waits, didn’t he?”

He looked up at me, startled.  A wad of chewing tobacco peaked up from behind his lower lip.  His eyes widened as he realized what I was referring to.

“Oh my God!” he yelled, doing his best not to spit his chew in my face.  “I’m so glad someone else noticed that!”

“Yeah,” I said, becoming very pleased with myself for deciding to stop and chat, “I wonder if he didn’t wanna talk about Tom Waits out of respect, or because, ya know, he doesn’t like Tom Waits.”

“Exactly!” he shouted.  “That would be so weird!”

“Well, you can’t Google search one of them without finding a picture of the other, I said.”

He spat tobacco juice into a cup.

“It’s Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, and Tom Waits,” he said.  “I mean, that’s it.  It’s them.”

“And Leonard Cohen,” I said.

“Right!”

He paused.

“Can I hug you?”

Because we live in a fucked up world, I immediately took note of whether or not the back door of his car was still open.  I figured that if it were open, he could easily shove me inside and drive me back to Alaska with him.  Screw it, I thought.  Hug the Nick Cave fan who drove here from motherfucking Alaska and said the words “Gladiator Part II” to Nick Cave’s face.  Hug him.  Hug a fellow crazy fan who bought a ticket to this random fucking show at The Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.  Hug the guy who is just as distraught as you are by the idea that Nick Cave doesn’t like Tom Waits.  Do it, Steff.  Just do it.  You’re safe.  Nick Cave fans don’t kill each other.  There’s no crying in baseball.  Goonies never say ‘die’.

I hugged him.  He hugged me back.  When we broke our embrace, he repeated, “I’m so glad someone else noticed that.”

We chatted for another minute about the show.  He spit more tobacco juice into his cup, but this time he apologized for his “disgusting habit.”

“I would love to ask Nick Cave if he ever hears from Shane MacGowan,” I said.

He chuckled briefly, and added, “I would love to ask him if he would give me Warren Ellis’s phone number.”

Our BFF moment was over.  He had changed the subject from Shane MacGowan to Warren Ellis.  I wasn’t disappointed, but there was nothing more to be said.

“Have a safe drive back,” I said.

“You have a good night,” he replied.

I turned and began to walk away.  Over my shoulder, I heard him yell, “I am so glad you said something!”

I turned my head and smiled at him, then continued to my car and smiled to myself.  I do hope he has a safe drive back, and I do hope Nick Cave at least respects Tom Waits, and I do hope that everyone gets to experience the occasional pleasant interaction with a stranger who is only as crazy as they are.

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La mort d’un beau soutien-gorge

I haven’t looked my best at work lately.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve gotten into the habit of immediately hitting “snooze” when I hear my alarm go off at 6:30am.  Forty-five minutes later, I’ll force myself out of bed, pull on whatever jeans and t-shirt I can find crumpled up in a heap on the floor, and ease my feet into my blue and purple Adidas.  After rolling some deodorant against my stubbly pits and rubbing cornstarch into my oily, sweaty scalp, I’ll consider myself good to go.  The t-shirts are usually stained, the jeans are usually smelly, and, while it may be a great alternative to dry shampoo, the cornstarch tends to leave a powdery build up in the part of my hair.

I’m sexy.  And you know it.

My appearance doesn’t affect anyone else’s workday.  That is, I didn’t think it affected anyone else’s workday until the foxy Frenchman made a comment about it on Tuesday.

The Frenchman is one of the most amusing people in the office.  He asks hilariously European questions, such as,”Stéphanie, if I were to put a banana in ze freezer, what would happen?” When I first started at this company a year ago, he used to ask me questions about the bun I would wear in my hair: “How deed you make eet so pear-fect?  Eet eez like a dough-nut!”  He has great arms despite his claims that he never works out.  He rides a motorcycle.  He’s classic.

“Stéphanie,” he said to me on Tuesday when I passed him in the hall, “Remember when you used to dress nice at work?”

I flipped him off.

“No, really,” he continued.  “Do you remember?”

My only indication that this was an earnest question lost in translation as opposed to an outright dig was the fact that he was smiling the same doofy smile that was plastered across his face when he once asked me if his pants were too tight.  Still, I wasn’t thrilled to be put on the spot.

I said, “Fuck you” and walked away.

Maybe he should have kept his mouth shut.  Regardless, I knew I didn’t look nice.  Far from it.  For weeks.  I asked myself, Would you like to put more effort into your appearance?  The answer was Yes.  I asked myself, Is this for the foxy Frenchman, or for yourself?  The answer was, For my damn self!

Wednesday went fine.  I got out of bed at 7:00 instead of 7:15, which gave me just enough time for a quick shower.  I put on a black tank top, a blue cardigan, jeans that had been hanging up in my closet, and knee high boots.  The foxy Frenchman told me, “See?  You are like a new person!”  I flipped him off.

Thursday was the same.  I got up at 7:00, sprayed sweet-smelling dry shampoo in my hair, and put on a clean dress.  When I got home that night I took a shower, blow dried my hair, and selected a dress to wear the next day.  I chose a Free People dress I had splurged on in July during an intense “Oh My God, What Am I Going To Wear To All The Nick Cave Shows I’m Seeing This Week?” shopping spree.  I didn’t end up wearing it to Nick Cave, but I did wear it to Neutral Milk Hotel.  I felt like a Harvest Moon Princess.

“Look at me,” I thought to myself as I got into my bed at 9:30 on Thursday night.  “Look at how much better I feel about my appearance, all because I am making an effort to make a minimal amount of effort.”

This morning began as the two previous mornings had.  Up at 7:00.  Contacts in.  Deodorant on.  Sweet-smelling dry shampoo sprayed.    After I put on my Harvest Moon Princess dress, I heard my roommate call my name and ask if I was ready to leave.  I wasn’t ready.  Not quite.  Still, I grabbed my car key from my purse and followed her downstairs to the garage.  We each have a place to park, but our spaces are tandem — one of us is always blocking the other in, regardless of how convenient that is.  It’s a bit of a pain, but my roommate and I seem to have an understanding.  There’s not much we can do besides communicate with each other when one of us has to get the hell to work.

She pulled away.  I re-parked my car.  When I got out and walked to the door that leads to the lobby, I saw that it was open ajar.  This door is usually shut and locked.  Shit, that’s lucky, I thought.  I don’t have my key with me.  I pushed the door open, walked through the lobby, and stepped into the elevator.  I felt the weight of my car key in my hand.  My one key.  My car key.  I gasped.

I didn’t have the key to the lobby, which meant I didn’t have the key to the apartment, which meant I was in a situation.  About a month ago, my parents warned me that if there were too many keys hanging on my keychain, the weight of everything could mess up my car’s ignition.  Ever since that conversation, I have been keeping my car key separate from all the others.  In my hurry to move my car so that my roommate could leave for work, I had forgotten to grab all of my damn keys.  (Note to self: come up with a slightly better way of keeping your keys organized.)

I arrived at my floor and ran to my apartment.  Locked.  I ran around the corner to where the apartment manager lives and knocked on his door.  No answer.  I knocked a bit more assertively.  Nothin’.  I banged on his door with both hands.  Still nothin’.  I got down on my knees, opened the mail slot in his door, and yelled, “HELLLOOOOO?”

I gave up and ran back to my apartment.  I tried the handle again.  Still locked.  I thought that since only the door handle lock was locked (as opposed to the dead bolt), perhaps I could force it open by jiggling the handle repeatedly and slamming my booty against the door.  I tried this for a few seconds.  It worked about as well as one might suspect it would.

Nervousness began to kick in.  What time is it?  How unimaginably horrible is the traffic getting with every passing second?  Should I go out and find a pay phone and call the office to tell them I’m running late?  How the hell will I get back inside the building if I do that?  I’m not wearing shoes!  I can’t go to work without any shoes!  Underwear!  I didn’t have time to put on underwear before I went downstairs!  

Staring down at the lock, I tried to think of ways to force it open without slamming my booty against the door.  Never in my life had I successfully picked a lock, but what if I could do it now?  Along with all the other innocent, yet miscalculated things I regretted doing that morning, I cursed myself for removing the bobby pins I had used to pull back my bangs while I washed my face.  Guess lock-picking is out of the question.

Suddenly, I remembered a scenario that took place in an episode of Friends I had once watched when I was a kid.  The three women (I don’t remember all of their names) were trapped outside in the snow.  They were with some guy (not any of the main guys — it was someone else), and they needed to get inside of somewhere (either a cabin or a car).  The man asked which of them wore the biggest bra size, and he explained that he could use a part of a bra (underwire? clip?) to pick the lock.  He said he needed to know who wore the biggest size, because that woman would have the biggest…the biggest lock-picking tool.  Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox argued with each other over which of them had bigger boobs (neither of them wanted to have the biggest boobs, which made me feel very insecure as a pre-teen with significant breasts), and then Lisa Kudrow was like, “Shuttup bitches, I’ll give him my bra.”  I changed the channel after that.  Did the bra trick work?  What part did he use?  No idea.

Standing in the hallway at what was now probably 7:45am, I carefully pulled my left arm out of its sleeve.  Then, I reached both hands around my back and undid my bra clasp.  I slid the bra off my left arm, and then quickly put my arm back in my dress sleeve.  I repeated the process on the right side, slipping my sleeve off, slipping the bra off, and then covering up as swiftly as possible.

Once I had the bra in my hands, I wasn’t sure what to do.  It was a flimsy old thing that needed to be replaced, so I wasn’t too upset about having to destroy it.  Still, I wasn’t sure where to start.  At first I tried to force my car key under one of the clasps in hopes it would help it slide out of the fabric.  When that didn’t work, I took the bra in both hands and started to pull in opposite directions.  After a brief, yet furious struggle, the tip of one of the underwires popped out.  It was too big and too blunt to fit in the lock.  Curses.  I hooked the bra clasps together, and, once again, pulled in opposite directions.  After a few seconds of twisting and pulling the pathetic bra while contorting my face into all kinds of ridiculous expressions and aggressively whispering, “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” one of the clasps popped out of the fabric.  I bent the small piece of metal into a straight line, and then gently stuck it in the lock.  Unsure of what to do next, I started wiggling the metal up and down, side to side, clockwise, and counter clockwise.  When I tried the up and down motion again, the damn thing snapped, leaving half of it in my hand and half of it lodged inside the Godforsaken lock.

The feeling of defeat was palpable.  I had no shoes, no underwear, and now, thanks to a desperate, half-formed idea inspired by an old episode of Friends I never finished watching, no bra.  My purse was inside my apartment, along with my phone, my makeup bag, my black sandals I had planned to wear, and the food I had planned to bring with me for lunch.

Should I just go to work?

I remembered I had a pair of brown boots in my trunk.  They would work.  I still had my car key, which was a good thing.  This doesn’t have to be that big of a deal.  

I walked back downstairs and opened my trunk.  I zipped up my boots and got in the car.  I put on my sunglasses, slid The Pogues’ Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash into my CD player, and thought about how much easier this morning would have been if I had the ability to walk through vaulted doors.

I got to work on time.  Early, in fact.  I had time to drink a cup of tea and enjoy the silence of an empty office.  When I was finished, I walked into the bathroom to check out how my boots coordinated with the dress.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I will definitely be wearing this outfit again.  With socks, next time.

For a few more seconds, I admired my appearance in the mirror.  My hair looked polished.  My outfit was groovy.  My makeup-free face looked pretty great, too.  I felt confident.  I didn’t feel like an artificial, overly done-up version of myself, nor did I feel like the lazy, slightly smelly version of myself I had recently been showcasing.  I was just me.  Silly old me, with a pretty dress, no socks, and a torn up bra in my trunk.

When I returned to my desk, I opened up my email.  I threw a few old messages away and printed out my boss’ daily edition of The Hollywood Reporter.  I was about to get up to get a second cup of tea when I heard someone enter my doorway.

“Stéphanie,” said the foxy Frenchman.  “Zat eez a great dress.”

I flipped him off.  As he walked away, I smiled as I imagined how I must have looked while I was struggling to tear my bra in half.  Maybe after I get my next paycheck I’ll treat myself to Chantelle.  And a keychain.

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Strange Bedfellows.

Last week, my parents discovered they had bed bugs.  In their bed.  Only their bed.  I wasn’t bitten up and my brother wasn’t bitten up; just Steve and Barbara.  They don’t know how it happened.  They’re both rather fastidious people.

On Monday morning my mom had someone spray the house with all-natural, yet highly allergenic whatnot in order to kill the little bastard bed bugs.  The night before the insurgence, my mom brought a gray suitcase into my room and dropped it on my sofa.

“Ya may wanna pick up the stuff piled next to your bed,” she said.  “They’re gonna be spraying your carpet.”

I took her suggestion.  The suitcase is 3/4 full.  Its contents?  A veritable cornucopia of Dorky.

I shall now list for you the “stuff piled next to my bed” that has now been transferred to a gray suitcase on top of my sofa.

1. The Godfather Trilogy DVD Collection. 

Fully remastered.  The bouquet Johnny Fontaine sends to Don Corleone is so damn COLORFUL.

2. A Bag of Crackers

My mom brought this to me the night I came home from work after spending nearly two hours in the nurse’s office battling dehydration and low blood sugar.  Mom had also brought me soup, but I kept the crackers in case I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like a twitchy, malnourished mess.  Rather, still feeling like a twitchy, malnourished mess.

3. A Burned DVD copy of A Streetcar Named Desire

No one, but NO ONE, is sexier than Marlon Brando in his skin tight t-shirt.  I fell asleep to this movie every night for a good six months.

4. The Complete Works of Arthur Rimbaud

It has the English translations and the original French.  I memorized “Sensation.”  I was determined to memorize it in French, too.  I still haven’t done that.  I bought the book last October.  Damn.

5. An Illustrated Copy of The Fan Man by William Kotzwinkle

Some people keep The Bible by their beds.  And so do I.

6. A Green Journal with a Butterfly on the Cover That I Bought at Logos Bookstore in Santa Cruz, CA

Page One:

2-20-11

In Santa Cruz for the weekend.  This paper is incredible.  I can’t tell if the guy next to me is cute. Ya know, this bar isn’t ideal for writing.  Well, the vibe is, but the position I’m in is slightly uncomfortable.  I saw an absolutely beautiful guy downtown.  He was playing guitar and singing his heart out.  He looked and sounded so gorgeous. 

7. The Favorite Game by Leonard Cohen

Picked this up last November.  I found it on eBay.  The last time I picked it up was one day in December when I was sitting in the waiting room of an Urgent Care in Westlake Village waiting to talk to a doctor about a bizarre ailment I was convinced was killing me.  It didn’t kill me, and I never finished this book.

8. Planet News by Allen Ginsberg

I bought this book of poetry in San Francisco.  I was there last February for five or six days.  I spent my first day there walking around North Beach.  After having a few beers at Cafe Vesuvio I wandered over to The Beat Museum to ask if they had copies of the poems I submitted to them for a poetry contest they held back in 2007.  They didn’t have copies, but the guy behind the counter searched the internet archives for a good twenty minutes trying to help me out.  I felt kinda guilty for making him look, so I bought something.

9. A Black, Ringed Journal My Parents Bought for Me at Citylights Books When I Was 19

The opening lines of “HOWL” are printed on the front cover.

Page One:

3-06-06

When I get angry I feel my shoulder blade muscles tense up and form a knot that hurts for days.

I can feel it pinching back there whenever I try to write

or type

or just fucking hold a book.

I once tried to work out the knot by wearing Icy-Hot bandages at night

But they just soothed the area around the hubbub of angst.*

I’d peel the bandage off in the morning and my skin would

smell like chemicals.

God knows what kind of cancer it’ll give me.

Maybe the doctors will prescribe me some pot.

Then I could sell it on the streets and use the money to hire a masseuse. 

(*I feel like kicking my own ass for “hubbub of angst.”)

10. Light Blue Journal I Bought from Paper Source in Santa Cruz, CA

I’m not sharing Page One.  I can’t.  I will, however, reveal that it was written on Friday, October 16, 2009 at 12:54pm.

It was interesting to read Page One of this cute little unfinished journal, because it’s my retelling of the beginning of what turned out to be a very frustrating, rather sad story.  It was all so seemingly innocent at the time, but now that I’m looking at these scribbled words written by the 22-year-old version of myself, it’s obvious that this very frustrating period of my life left a rather sad impression on my ability to trust people.  Perfectly sweet people.

Perfectly sweet male people.

That Fucker.

11. A “One Line A Day: Five Year Memory” Journal from Barnes and Noble

I am so bad at keeping up with this thing.  There is literally just enough space to write one sentence per day.  I thought it seemed interesting.  I haven’t written any memories in it since January 9, 2012.  I wrote, “First unemployed Monday.”  That was a fun day, actually.  Mom and I went to the zoo.

12.  A Tennessee Williams Collection

Includes Summer and Smoke, Orpheus Descending, Suddenly Last Summer, and Period of Adjustment.  It also includes a personal essay by Tennessee that spoke to me so profoundly the first time I read it that I literally threw the book across the room.

So much for the past and present.  The future is called “perhaps,” which is the only possible thing to call the future.  And the important thing is not to allow that to scare you.

13. Perfection by Julie Metz

A memoir I had to read for my writing group.  I was intrigued for the first few chapters, but the whole thing became so damn indulgent after a certain point that by the end I found the narrator annoying and stupid.  I must take great care to never become an annoying, stupid narrator.

14. Another Tennessee Williams Collection

This one includes Battle of Angels, The Glass Menagerie, and A Streetcar Named Desire.  I read this one on a flight from JFK to LAX.  Despite having watched A Streetcar Named Desire a dozen fucking times, I still teared up while I was reading it.  Tennessee may be damn easy to lampoon, but he’s also really fucking hard to beat.

15. The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 by Richard Brautigan

There are sex scenes in books that make you want to have sex, but not often do you come across sex scenes in books that make you want to cry.  Cry for what?  I don’t know.  Nostalgia?  Longing?  Loneliness?  Wishing and hoping that somewhere out there someone remembers you and your body just like Richard Brautigan saw this girl and her body…

It’s a hard decision whether to start at the top or the bottom of a girl.  With Vida I just didn’t know where to begin.  It was really a problem.

After she reached up awkwardly and put my face in a small container which was her hands and kissed me quietly again and again, I had to start somewhere.

She stared up at me all the time, her eyes never leaving me as if they were an airfield.

I changed the container and her face became a flower in my hands.  I slowly let my hands drift down her face while I kissed her and then further down her neck to her shoulders.

I could see the future being moved in her mind while I arrived at the boundaries of her bosom.  Her breasts were so large, so perfectly formed under her sweater that my stomach was standing on a step-ladder when I touched them for the first time.

Her eyes never left me and I could see in her eyes the act of my touching her breasts.  It was like brief blue lightning.

I was almost hesitant in a librarian sort of way.

“I promise,” she said, reaching up and awkwardly pressing my hands harder against her breasts.  She of course had no idea what that did to me.  The step-ladder started swirling.

She kissed me again, but this time with her tongue.  Her tongue slid past my tongue like a piece of hot glass.

16. A Light Blue Guitar Pick from Amoeba Music in Berkely, CA.

I’ve now been to all three Amoebas.  The one in Hollywood is The Best.

17. Jason Webley’s Only Just Beginning

This is his favorite album of his.  This is also my favorite album of his.  It’s just his best album of his.  “Music That Puts Everything Together” brings me to my knees.  Oh Jesus, and “Map.”  And “Icarus.”  And “With.”  And “Coda.”

Of course they’re all better live.  I’m damn lucky that I know that firsthand.  Jason Webley live is more life affirming than…anything, really.  Except maybe Leonard Cohen live.  Speaking of which…

18. Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen

This is a Hell of a novel.  There is a scene where two men — The Narrator and his friend, F. — are driving at top speed in F.’s car down a dark highway.  F. is pleasuring himself while he drives.

F., put it back.  Enough is enough.

Never put it back when it gets like this.

My God, I’ve never seen you so big!  What’s going on in your mind?  What are you thinking of?  Please teach me how to do it.  Can I hold it?

No!  This is between me and God.

Who but Leonard Fucking Cohen would come up with “This is between me and God”?

I had Jason Webley sign my copy.  I knew he was a Leonard Cohen fan and I wanted to impress him with my dorkiness.  Because, ya know, traveling to Seattle to catch his 11-11-11 show wasn’t dorky enough.

Stephanie

I’m glad I remember your name.

And I’m glad that you came so far for my concert.

And I’m glad that you like this book.

♥ jason

11-11-11

approximately

18. And the Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave

Nick, I love you with all my heart and soul, but this novel is no Beautiful Losers.

19. Scattered Poems by Jack Kerouac

Gotta love a poem called “Pull My Daisy.”

20. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita, light of my life.  Fire of my loins.

‘Nuff said.

21. A DVD Copy of the Remake of Alfie Starring Jude Law

I bought this from the Blockbuster in Westlake right before the damn thing closed down for good.  Ya know what?  This is a terrible movie.  It is.  But damn, I really get a kick out of it.  It’s so atrocious it’s funny and Jude Law is just POSING the whole Goddamn time, which is all at once hilarious and fucking hot.  He’s so hot I wanna punch him in the face.

22. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz

An award-winning play my mom read earlier this year that she insisted I read as well.  Still haven’t gotten around to doing that.

23. Writing the Memoir: from Truth to Art by Judith Barrington

I have a lot to say about this book, but right now I am completely distracted by the fact that the author’s last name is Barrington.  I purchased this book before that last name became such a significant part of my life.  Co-workers of mine who are reading this, I’m sorry.

24. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Patti Smith is really into this book.  I found a copy of it on my mom’s bookshelf on a rainy day last November.  I read the first page, and then I decided to go buy a ukulele.

I attempted to make a video for you of me playing the ukulele, but my mom interrupted when she came in to ask me if I wanted anything from Lassen’s.

25. A Blue and Black Leather-bound Journal Given to Me by My High School Journalism Teacher

Page One is humiliating.

Here’s something from Page 12:

12:00am August 10, 2005 Wednesday

I bought a CD today.  I’m listening to it now.  It feels great.  Not as great as kissing.  Music makes me think of kissing — probably because I sometimes kiss to music.

26. A DVD Copy of The Graduate

Two nights before I moved back to my parents’s house after living in Santa Cruz for five years, I downloaded this movie and bought a bottle of Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon.  At this point, I had already moved 99% of my furniture out of my apartment.  All I had was my twin-sized mattress, which was, at that point, pathetically sitting on the floor of my bedroom.  I sat on my pathetic mattress, drank my pathetic cheap wine, and watched Benjamin Braddock try his best not to be pathetic.  I cried a lot.

27. A DVD Copy of The Road to God Knows Where

Behind the scenes of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds touring the United States after Tender Prey was released.  They’re all so young and beautiful.  I fall asleep to this one a lot.  Nick is such a jerk to journalists, but not in a Bob Dylan in Don’t Look Back kind of way.  All the journalists that appear in this movie are such idiots that it really isn’t Nick’s fault that he comes off as so smart and so snide.  The people interviewing him really have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about.

28.  A DVD Copy of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

I will defend this movie until the end of time.  If, someday, I find myself with some spare time and some spare money (by the way, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!), I plan on writing an in-depth analysis of all four (or, by then, 15) Pirates films.  No one will publish it and no one will read it, so I’ll probably just send the manusctipt to Johnny Depp and wait for his reaction.  Maybe I’ll get to become one of his various best friends and I’ll start getting invitations to parties at Keith Richards’s house.

29. A DVD Copy of The Ruling Class

Just watch it.

30. The Complete Fawlty Towers

This show never got boring or bad because the British know when it’s time for a television show to end.  There are only 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers, but they are all perfect.

31. A DVD Copy of Blue Velvet

I watched this not too long ago.  I had a 103 degree fever and I was sitting on the couch in my empty house shivering and sniffling and coughing.

A video is worth 1,000 words:

32. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Live DVD: God Is in the House

It’s pretty good, but Warren Ellis had joined the band by this point, and it’s upsetting to watch Nick try to divvy up his affection between Warren and Blixa.  And Blixa just looks BORED out of his mind, even during “The Carny.”  It saddens me.

33. A DVD Copy of The Darjeeling Limited

I can’t listen to people criticize Wes Andseron.  It’s a sin.

34. A DVD Copy of If….

My Malcolm McDowell obsession was one of the best things to ever happen to me.  He made a lot of crap movies, but it doesn’t matter, because he also made If….

This movie should be shown to everyone everywhere.  Politicians should watch and be warned.

35.  The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

I read two chapters of this self-help book in May right before the training period for my new job began.  I had been diagnosing myself with various terminal illnesses every day for two weeks and I was losing my Goddamn mind.  I had been unemployed since January and I was at my absolute wit’s end.  Two chapters of this thing had me back to normal.  (As in, I was suddenly cured of my lung cancer, throat cancer, liver cancer, brain cancer, and Parkinson’s Disease.)

36. A DVD Copy of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Live at Brixton Academy, London Thursday, November 11 2004

As long as I can shut my bedroom door, sit down by myself and watch this shit, then I can never really lose sight of the fact that my life is rather good.  And that I’m a bad motherfucker.

So, yeah.  I’m thinkin’ I’ll just put all this stuff back where I found it — piled up next to my bed.

 

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I Had a Dream, Joe.

All right.

I dreamt last night that I was flying in an airplane to some place.  I don’t remember where.  I don’t think it was ever explicitly stated where I was going.  All my friends and family were on the plane, too, along with the cast of season four of RuPaul’s Drag Race.  Best show on television, really.

I was standing near the Emergency Exit when, suddenly, it opened up and a man walked in.  He was in his 60’s, with a shaggy gray beard and a bald head.  He was wearing a t-shirt and jeans that had some white paint splattered on them.  Basically, he looked like an electrician from Santa Cruz.

In REAL LIFE, the image of the paint-splattered Santa Cruz 60-something makes me think of Richard, a man I met my freshman year of college.  I was downtown one night doing some shopping when I heard someone playing Bob Dylan songs on guitar.  I walked over and sat down on the sidewalk and watched Richard for about 45 minutes.  He played “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” and “Idiot Wind,” for God’s sake.  Of course, he kept forgetting the lyrics, so I kept having to sing loudly to get him back on track.  He was absolutely HORRENDOUS, but I was in heaven.  For an encore, he sang some Alice Cooper.  He fell to his knees every time he slurred, “I’M EIGHTEEN!”

It was a great night.  I mean, it was completely weird, but, okay, whatever.  The DREAM.

So this Santa Cruz-like man stepped onto the plane while it was 30,000-some-odd feet in the air, and he started kinda babbling at me.  Being immune to strange men babbling at me (IE: Richard), I tried making conversation with him.  He pulled out a gun.  I fell to the floor and rolled underneath some seats.  I grabbed a blanket and wrapped it around my body, then I wrapped my arms around my head.  I somehow figured that maybe, if Richard actually decided to hunker down and shoot underneath the seat, it would be better if he got me in the arm than in the head.  I began pondering the possibility of my arm bone actually stopping the bullet before it got to my brain, when I remembered, “Wait a second, this is all gonna get worked out right away.  All the queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race are training to become policewomen!”

I waited for one of the queens to come to the rescue.  Nothing happened.  Then, I heard a gunshot.  I peaked out from my hiding place, and it appeared that Richard had fired a warning shot in the air.  I got up and ran to the back of the plane and hid in the small space between the bathroom and the little kitchenette area where the flight attendants hide the coffee.  You know what I mean.

I waited there for a few seconds, and FINALLY, thank you JESUS, the incomparable Sharon Needles stood up from her seat with her gun in her hand.

Now, the best part about dreams, really, is that certain things take place that only make sense to the person who is doing the dreaming.  You see, in my dream, Sharon Needles looked like Megan from Mad Men.  Oh, she was definitely Sharon Needles, but she appeared in my dream as Mrs. Draper herself.

In REAL LIFE I’m a huge fan of Mad Men, and I really, really like the new Mrs. Draper.  Sometimes, though, I forget her character’s damn name.  To make it easier for myself, I often refer to her as “Sharon Needles.”  I’m okay with the fact that I’m the only person who thinks they look alike.

It’s stupid, I know.  Anyway, Sharon Needles was played by Mrs. Draper, aka: Sharon Needles.

She stood up, held her gun above her head, and, with trademark Sharon Needles confidence, she bellowed the dumbest freaking drag pun I’ve ever heard in my life:

CUNT OR QUIT, PEOPLE!”

Yes.  That was what my subconscious came up with.  In real life, I hardly EVER use THAT WORD.  In fact, I really only use it while driving in terrible traffic.  I’m never the girl who shows up somewhere and says to her friends, “What’s up, you stupid THAT WORDS?”  I find that behavior rather deplorable.

But anyway, Sharon Needles used THAT WORD in her rallying cry.  (I like that she used THAT WORD as a verb.  Ya know, in the way that you can BE a “bitch” and also participate in the act of “bitching,” which is “to bitch.”  I suppose she meant that in order to survive, someone was going to have to step it up and get things done.  To take some serious action.  To THAT WORD.)   She then ran down the aisle to the front of the plane and shot the unwieldy Richard.

We landed.  I don’t know where.  I have a vague memory of standing in the hallway of the on-campus apartment I lived in my sophomore year of college and having a very heated discussion with Sharon Needles about whether or not I liked her.  I kept insisting to Sharon Needles that she was one of my all-time favorite human-beings to ever walk the earth and I had no idea what gave her the impression that I ever, for one second, felt otherwise.  Eventually, she believed I was being genuine.  We stopped fighting.

Suddenly, I was on a plane again.  This time, not only was I joined by my friends, my family, and the gun-toting queens of season four of RuPaul’s Drag Race, I was also joined by my other favorite freaking people, the Bad Seeds.  Not Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, just the Bad Seeds.  That’s right — Nick Cave was not on the plane.  He was somewhere else doing Lord knows what.

I remember talking to him earlier in the dream outside of Pink’s Hot Dogs in Hollywood.  We were having our picture taken together, and the photographer told us that the flash of the camera might kill us.  We were both scared, but we let the photographer take pictures anyway.  The photographer seemed to really enjoy taking his time while counting, “One…two…three…”.  I was tempted to run away a few times, but somehow I mustered the courage to stay put.  Nick Cave and I both felt somewhat rejuvenated when the photographer finally thanked us for our time and walked away.  That is all I remember about any interaction with Nick Cave.

Anyway, back to the plane.

I was not all that upset by Nick Cave’s absence, because I was seated next to a very young and very cute incarnation of Bad Seeds guitarist (drummer, bassist, organist, backing vocalist, freaking tambourine shakist…) Mick Harvey.

So, okay.  In REAL LIFE, I haven’t stopped listening to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds since February of this year.  I picked up a copy of Let Love In at Rasputin’s in Berkeley, California during a totally weird and utterly fantastic road trip I took by myself after quitting my job.  Ever since listening to “Loverman” on repeat from Alameda to San Francisco, I really haven’t found any reason to listen to any other band.  Like, really.  There’s just no reason.  I mean, I listened to both Grinderman albums and I liked ’em just fine, but it’s hard for me to declare myself a Grinderman fan.  Had it not been for the Grinderman side project, Mick Harvey may not have left the Bad Seeds.  For as much fun as it is to put on “No Pussy Blues” and jump around, nothing beats grooving to “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!”  (Well, okay, it’s only fair to mention that based on what I’ve read, which is mostly speculation, the musical rift between Nick Cave and Mick Harvey began to take form as early as The Boatman’s Call days.  Seriously, though, The Boatman’s Call is worth a hundred rifts — the same just cannot be said about a Grinderman album.)  Now that the only long-standing Bad Seeds left are Nick Cave and Thomas Wydler, I worry that the next Bad Seeds album (if there is a next Bad Seeds album) will just be, well, a Grinderman album.

So anyway, in REAL LIFE, I’ve been paying more attention to the other Bad Seeds lately, especially Mick Harvey.  I’ve determined that while I have absolutely no right to judge any of the Bad Seeds as human-beings because I’ve never met them and they don’t know who the Hell I am and my relationship with all of them only exists in my head, it’s probably somewhat safe to say that Mick Harvey is one of the more modest Bad Seeds.  Look at him.

He’s just a baby right here.  Look at that sweet little face.  Now look at him during his Birthday Party days.

Mick Harvey is in the middle.  Now, the Birthday Party days were dark days for everyone in the band, but Mick Harvey consistently looked the most conservative.  I mean, this isn’t that wild of a picture, but this is still a good example of what I’m talking about.  For instance, I’m sure the hair product was mandatory, but Mick Harvey’s hairstyle is definitely the least ostentatious.  Also, observe how he isn’t looking into the camera with either Nick Cave’s “You want me SO BAD” look (with which I have no problem — he’s the freaking frontman), or Rowland S. Howard’s “I’M A COLD ASS ROCKSTAR” look.  He’s just like, “Take the picture, please.”

And look at him now.  He’s aged very well.  He’s just a cute Australian man.

ENOUGH OF REAL LIFE AND REAL LIFE MICK HARVEY.  BACK TO MY DREAM.

So, I was sitting next to young Mick Harvey.  Again, I don’t know where we were going.  Mick Harvey and I were having a lovely conversation when a voice came on over the speakers announcing that our plane was being hijacked.  Yes.  Mick Harvey and I were concerned, but not too concerned — after all, we both knew we were on a plane full of drag queens with guns.  It was only a matter of time before someone saved us.

SUDDENLY, our plane took a freaking nose dive.  It was seriously just falling out of the sky, face first.  Mick Harvey wasn’t able to hold it together — he started to freak out.  I closed my eyes and tried to remain calm.  I was terrified, of course, but if I was going to die, I didn’t want to spend my last few seconds in an agitated state of mind.  Instead, I wanted to die knowing that I was on a plane full of friends and family.  And Bad Seeds.  And drag queens.  And that the Bad Seeds and the drag queens were all [somehow] close, personal friends of mine.  I mean, I had everything I wanted, really.  Why be too upset?

One of the men hijacking us (another old white dude with a gray beard) started running up and down the aisle threatening to shoot anyone who moved.  Now, that did upset me.  I didn’t wanna get shot.  I was fine with the plane crash because there was nothing I could do to prevent that from happening.  But getting shot?  I wasn’t gonna give up without a fight.  I grabbed Mick Harvey and led him to the back of the plane.  I locked us in the bathroom and instructed Mick Harvey to stay quiet.  A few seconds later, we opened the door and peaked out.  Who was strutting by but Miss Congeniality herself, Latrice Royale.

In REAL LIFE, Latrice Royale is too good for this world.  She may not have won the competition, but she won my undying affection, that’s for damn sure.  She was in prison, dude.  She has seen some serious shit in her time.  And she’s FIERCE.

She really never got bitchy to anyone.  Sure, she had moments of unrivaled sass, but she didn’t cause any damn drama.  During the Drag Race reunion, she offered some of the best advice I’ve ever heard in all my 25 years.  You really should watch this; it’s short:

Trust me, I’ve had Latrice Royale in my head a lot during the last few weeks.

So, back to the dream.  There I was with [seriously cute] Mick Harvey, peering out of the plane’s bathroom.  We saw Latrice Royale strutting down the aisle holding her gun over her head.  She stopped, posed, and cried, “THE CHUNK RISES TO THE TOP OF THE CREAM!”

What the Hell, right?  In REAL LIFE, my friend, Alison, showed me endless videos of Macho Man Randy Savage during the Santa Cruz phase of my kickass road trip.  At one point, after my iPod was stolen from my car, I started to feel rather shitty.  I even toyed with the idea of driving back home.  I told Alison to put on Macho Man, and she selflessly indulged me.

 

That explains that.  Yes.  BACK TO THE DREAM!

Mick Harvey and I waited in the bathroom for something to happen.  Suddenly, we felt someone gain control of the planeLatrice Royale came on over the speaker and said, “All right, honeys.  I am gonna land this plane, but y’all need to grab a parachute and jump out.”

Mick Harvey and I ran out of the bathroom and grabbed two parachutes.  The Emergency Exit was already open, and the rest of the plane’s passengers — my friends and family and the Bad Seeds and the drag queens — were all hovering in the air, holding hands in a giant circle.  Mick Harvey put on his parachute and told me to take his hand.

I was too scared.  I didn’t know what string I had to pull to release the parachute, AND, to make matters worse, the parachute’s harness wasn’t fastening on me correctly.  I told Mick Harvey to go without me.  He jumped, and joined the circle with no problem at all.  Everyone turned to look at me and begged me to jump.  I was terrified.  I was worried that maybe my parachute would fall off me and I would plummet to my death.  I was worried that maybe I wouldn’t pull the right string…and I would plummet to my death.  Death death death death DEATH.  The weird part (yes, aside from all the other obvious “weird parts”), is that just a few minutes before, when the plane was falling out of the sky, I was able to remain calm.  The same thing happened when that creepy photographer at Pink’s Hot Dogs told Nick Cave and me that his camera might kill us.  In the face of actual disaster, I was somewhat composed.  In the face of figurative “WHAT IF?” disasters, however, I was a total mess.

I looked out at my flying circle of loved ones.  Mick Harvey was holding hands with Blixa Bargeld, the other Bad Seeds guitarist who sadly left the band.  They both looked at me, let go of each other’s hands, and yelled at me to come join the circle.  I looked down at my pitiful parachute.  There were two straps in the front of the harness thingy that were supposed to stay together, but they kept coming unhooked.  I took both straps in my right hand, took the parachute string in my left hand, and jumped out of the plane.  My landing was somewhat bumpier than everybody else’s, but I still landed safely.

The next thing I remember is hanging out inside of what appeared to be the arcade of Circus Circus in Las Vegas.  Blixa Bargeld and I were standing in line to ride the Merry-Go-Round.  He looked rather intense.  I was in heaven.  I thought, “Maybe I’ll get to sit next to him on the next flight!”

Blixa Bargeld was not young, emaciated, oddly beautiful Blixa Bargeld…

…he was this era of Blixa Bargeld.  And he didn’t give a shit.

The last thing I remember is sitting on yet another plane, next to my REAL LIFE friend, Veronica.  We were talking about our near death experience with the hijackers, and I was telling her all about how Mick Harvey and I locked ourselves in the bathroom and how we saw Latrice Royale strut by on her way to save the day.  Veronica and I laughed uproariously at what a character Latrice Royale is, and then we pulled out our finger puppets (which we do, in fact, own in REAL LIFE) and entertained Blixa Bargeld with a rendition of “The Origin of Love” from Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  Of course, I use the word “entertained” rather loosely — I think we enjoyed our performance more than he did.  Still, it was a thrill to be near him.

::Sigh::

In REAL LIFE, I woke up in a frightfully good mood, and not just because of the dream.  Everything is finally falling into place.  Training for my new job starts in two days, and I couldn’t be happier.  After months of feeling like a useless waste of space, I’ll finally have a reason to get up in the morning.  I’ll have a reason to wear makeup.  I’ll have a reason to shower.  Like Latrice Royale said, it’s time to “Get up, look SICKENING, and make them eat it.”  I’m so damn ready.

While my life seemed like it was spiraling out of control for a little while, I realize now that I had some incredible back up.  Things got bad, but there was always something or someone reminding me to just keep going.  I had my family.  I had my friends.  Excellent music.  Excellent drag queens.  What more does a person need, really?  Eventually, when it was time to just stop it with all the, “I’m scared” nonsense, I [somehow] managed to psyche myself up and take a risk. The photographer didn’t kill me with his death camera and the parachute didn’t fail me.  In the end, I made it through reasonably unscathed.  I just had to trust myself, really.

I have to say one more time, though, that while I do give myself some credit for surviving the last four months, I probably couldn’t have done it without Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.  That’s just a fact.

Here is a video of Nick Cave performing “I Had a Dream, Joe” on David Letterman.  The LETTERMAN HOUSE BAND is playing with him.  They are…they are not the Bad Seeds.  The only other Bad Seed present?  Mick Harvey.

One…two…three…

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Anybody Want Anything?

want |wänt; wônt|

verb

1 [ trans. ] have a desire to possess or do (something); wish for : I want an apple | [with infinitive ] we want to go to the beach | [ trans. ] she wanted me to go to her room | [ intrans. ] I’ll give you a lift into town if you want.

     • desire (someone) sexually : I’ve wanted you since the first moment I saw you.

noun

1 chiefly archaic; a lack or deficiency of something: Victorian houses which are in want of repair | it won’t be through want of trying.

     • the state of being poor and in need of essentials; poverty : freedom from want.

2 a desire for something : the expression of our wants and desires.

Ever heard of California Chicken Cafe?  It’s a restaurant chain here in Southern Cali.  Most everything on the menu involves chicken, and, rest assured, the items that don’t contain chicken contain avocado.  You can also add chicken to any non-chicken item for $1.75.

You don’t know what you’re missing.  Really.  ::Cough::

California Chicken Cafe is a popular lunch option at the office where I work.  I, myself, rarely participate in the California Chicken Cafe extravaganzas.  No, I don’t think I’m better than everyone, I just can’t be spendin’ money on shit that doesn’t bring me immense joy.  Plus, I spent all my money on baked clams and cannoli last week at San Gennaro in New York City.

I regret nothing.

Today, a co-worker was about to make a chicken run when he suddenly cried out, “Anybody else want anything from California?”

There was a pause, and then I asked, “From California?”

“Yeah.”

I thought for a moment, and then said, “I want a house near the ocean.”

My co-worker laughed.

“No, no, as in, do you want anything from California Chicken Cafe.”

I didn’t want any damn chicken.  I did, however, proceed to ramble about some of the things I do, in fact, want.  When it was time for me to shut up and get back to work, the rambling continued in my head.

I now present to you Ten Random Things I Want.  Some of them are unique to California, and some of them…well…

♥♥♥

Ten Random Things I Want

by Stephanie Callas

10.

I want a house near the ocean.  I will live there by my damn self until I decide I want company.  I have not yet decided the exact location of this house, but I know it will be North of Pismo.  It will be impeccably decorated, and feature a killer sound system.

9.

I want my car to be paid the Hell off.  No more monthly car payments.  None.

8.

I want a bulldog.  An English Bulldog.  I will name him Brando and he will be my buddy.  He will be a healthy boy, with no respiratory problems or hip dysplasia, and he will not die of heatstroke like so many English Bulldogs tend to do.  He will be chubby and cute and he will love The Godfather as much as I do.

7.

I want to know how to program computer viruses.   Ya never know when ya may need to rip someone off.

6.

I want the cryogenically frozen body of Walt Disney.  People will come from all over the world just to get a glimpse of it, and I will charge admission based on my personal prejudices.  60-year-old man in an Armani suit with a 23-year-old socialite on his arm?  $10,000.  Cute hippie-boy with a beard and a beanie who wants to stop and see The Walt on his way to Mexico?  Admission is free!  (This is, of course, not including the food and wine he will inevitably purchase in his effort to seduce me).

5.

I want to be able to travel.  I’m talkin’ far and wide.  I want to wake up, decide that I should spend the weekend in Barcelona drinking from a wine skin and speaking in an English accent and introducing myself as Brett, and then go do it.

4.

I want to be friends with John Waters.  I want to be on a first name basis with him.  When he’s not visiting me in my fabulous house by the ocean, he will be sending me funny text messages and buying me semi-perverted presents.  We will Skype every Monday morning while we’re having our coffee.  He will say things like, “Mondays are just such a DRAG,” and I will say, “Honey, you WISH you were a DRAG,” and he will say, “Honey, the world couldn’t HANDLE all THIS in DRAG,” and I will say, “Honey, you WISH the world couldn’t handle YOU in DRAG”…

3.

I want to speak fluent French.  I will go to Farmer’s Markets all over the world and ONLY speak French.

2.

I want a box of cannoli from Ferrara’s bakery to be delivered to my door every Friday night.  FRESH.  I want them to be all different varieties — regular, chocolate, Nutella, pistachio — and they will all have perfect shells and perfect filling.  I will serve the cannoli to all of my fabulous dinner guests.  Some parties will be small, and others will put Woodstock to shame.  Brando will be everyone’s favorite couch companion, and John Waters will bring out everyone’s inner freak.  Tom Waits will be playing the piano and Patti Smith will be playing the clarinet.  Peter O’Toole will be serving champagne and Leonard Cohen will be handing out white lilies.  Nick Cave and Barbara Streisand will perform duets that bring the guests to their knees in cathartic abandon.  My parents will be excited to be out of the house and my brothers will be happy to be away from school and work, even though school and work is treating them just fine.  All my friends will bring fabulous dates — no assholes, no losers, no fuddy-duddies — and those who do not will be more than thrilled to spend an evening unattached and irresponsible.  No one will get drunk, and everyone will get happy.  The next morning, I won’t have to do one bit of cleaning.  While everyone is driving home, not one person will be thinking about work problems or school problems or money problems or family problems or marriage problems or credit card problems or plumbing problems or love problems.  No one will think, “I should have just stayed home and studied,” or, “I should have stayed in and searched for a new job,” or, “I wish that guy had called me back,” or, “I wish that girl hadn’t been there.”  All they will be thinking is, “I can’t believe I got a picture with the cryogenically frozen body of Walt Disney.”

1.

I guess it goes without say that I want World Peace, so fuck it — I want Don Draper.

The End?

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