Tag Archives: rock and roll

Just for One Day.

For me, it went like this.

At 10:30, I turned off my bedroom light and got into bed.  For reasons beyond my immediate comprehension, I saw pink, winged ponies when I shut my eyes.  The sight of them was strange, yet strangely comforting.  I soon fell asleep.

At 11:25 (or what must have been right around 11:25), I woke up to go to the bathroom.  When I got back to my room, I saw that my phone was, as the kids say, blowing up.  Three different people had sent me text messages.  14 text messages.

I opened one.  It said, “Bowie. Gone.”

At that moment, I was only about 3/4 of the way conscious.  What was my friend trying to say?  Was he up late listening to old Bowie records and feeling reflective?  Was he so blown away by Low he felt his mind was “Gone”?  Did he really hate Blackstar?

I remembered I had 13 other texts to read.  Then I woke up.

I have 14 texts because people are trying to tell me that David Bowie is dead. 

I opened up another message.  It was a group text.  Two of my closest friends and I have been babbling to each other via text about anything and everything nearly every day for several years.  All three of us love using caps lock.

“ARE YOU HEARING THE REPORTS THAT DAVID BOWIE DIED.  I’M REALLY FUCKED UP RIGHT NOW.”

I Googled it.  BBC News confirmed it.  I gasped.  Loudly.  Then I heard my name from the other room.

“Steff?”

One of my roommates came to my door.  I joined her in the hallway.  She had just read the news on social media.  “I heard the noise from your room and figured you just got the news,” she said.  I looked up at the wall and saw the sepia print I bought in San Francisco 10 years ago of Bowie and Lou Reed looking rather friendly.  I’m not a religious person, but I do love the idea of happy reunions.

david_bowie_ziggy_lou_reed_kiss

I sat back down on my bed and contemplated staying up all night.  I wasn’t even sad yet; I just knew I was in for a long one.  At this point I was wide awake, but I felt like I was dreaming.

My phone rang.  Another friend had heard.

It was at this friend’s house that I first saw Labyrinth.  We were 10 or 11 and Bowie’s crotch had completely taken over our slumber party.  We returned that VHS to Blockbuster pretty damn worn.  Years later, we traded in Labyrinth for Moulin Rouge! and sang “Elephant Love Medley” with the sort of crazed abandon that can only be produced by teenage girls, particularly those who are hopelessly in love with a significantly older, married celebrity.  Aw, Ewan McGregor.  “We can he heroes / forever and ever.”

courtesy of 8tracks.com

courtesy of 8tracks.com

I picked up the call.  I didn’t even say “hello.”  I just said, “Dude.”

“I’m sorry.  I hope I’m not waking you up.”

“You’re not.”

“Do you know why I’m calling?”

“Yes.”

We expressed our mutual shock and confusion.  Then there were a few more moments of, “Dude” and “I know” and “What the FUCK, man?”

“We both got to see him live,” I reminded her.

“Yes, we did get to do that.”

My friend started to cry.  I was numb.

“I’m still in disbelief,” I said.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “I don’t know.  I just…I never met him or anything, but…he was just always around.  I associate him with, ya know, with you guys.”

I thought about the time my mom drove a group of us to San Francisco for spring break.  We were in 11th grade.  The minivan broke down at one point just outside San Luis Obispo.  As my mom waited by the van for roadside assistance, my friends and I stood on the side of the highway.  Arm-in-arm, the five of us sang “Ziggy Stardust” at maximum volume.

“I know,” I told my friend.  “I get it.”

We talked about our concern for a friend of ours who had undoubtedly gone to bed before the news broke, and how unfair it was that she was going to wake up in the morning and find out her hero had died.  Eventually, our conversation reached a lull.

“Ok,” said my friend, “I’m just gonna listen to Bowie and cry some more.  Goodnight.  I love you.”

“I love you so, so much.”

I hung up.  I thought about when my friend and I first watched Trainspotting.  We were 14.  Frickin’ Ewan McGregor.  We knew literally nothing about the movie besides the fact our loverman was the star.  Christ.  We struck gold that day.  How often do you fall in love with an actor and then learn — by accident — he’s notorious for getting naked in his movies?  What luck.  We rewound that tape like we were two 10-year-olds watching Labyrinth, only this time there was no mystery.

What was that song, though?  The one from the opening credits?  And what was that song from the scene were Renton ODs and sinks into the floor at the Mother Superior’s house?  Those questions haunted me so much I went out and bought a copy of the soundtrack.  The song I fell in love with was Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day.”

“How’d you learn about Lou?” my dad asked me one evening.

“From the Trainspotting soundtrack.”

“You saw Trainspotting?”

“…No.”

“Have you listened to any Velvet Underground?” he asked.

“No.”

“Look for them next time you go to download songs off the internet.”

That was the moment dad officially became my guide.  He played me Lou’s Berlin for the first time and told me it was the perfect thing to listen to when you’re depressed.  He played me weird Iggy Pop songs and drove me to a little record store one afternoon and bought me a copy of London Calling.  He put on New Order one slow Saturday night and we danced our hearts out to “Temptation.”  For Christmas I was given a small turntable and I fiendishly raided his record collection.

One night he came into my room and handed me his copy of Marianne Faithful’s Broken English.  “Put this on next time you really feel like you hate men,” he said.

I was just a bit proud of myself when I picked up a copy of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars from the Sam Goody in the Thousand Oaks Mall.  I was 15.  It was the summer before 10th grade, and I was desperate for a distraction from my assigned reading.  I had already spent half the vacation listening to Raw Power — David Bowie seemed like the next logical step on my teenage rock and roll adventure.

Is there a stranger opening track than “Five Years”?  And what’s with the aliens?  And what exactly is a “rock and roll suicide”?  I had no answers, but I still felt like I had found the key to everything.  (Take that, Aldous Huxley.)

The day after I turned 16, my dad played me “Life on Mars?”  He called it, “One of the most beautiful rock and roll songs ever recorded.”  A little over a year later, he took me and two friends to see Bowie in concert, where he sang “Life on Mars?”  Beautiful, indeed.  So beautiful, in fact, that I stopped doing my homework for a good month and a half.  I had no time for homework — I was too busy listening to Bowie and perfecting my eye shadow technique.

Wait, wait, “Life on Mars?”?  That was it — that was the song I needed to play to begin mourning Bowie!

I jumped off my bed and ran to the corner of my room to plug in my ancient turntable.  I queued up the song, turned up the volume, and stood in the middle of my room waiting for the deluge.  I was ready.

Bowie sounded like a robot that was powering down for the night.  Was the speed wrong?  I tinkered with the settings.  Nothing worked.  I turned off the turntable and crawled into bed and listened to the song on my iPhone.  It wasn’t the same.  I cursed the modern world and I did not cry.

This morning was a flurry of texts and facebook messages.  Everyone was sad and no one was ready.  We reminisced about important moments of our teen-hood for which Bowie was cosmically present: driving through Topanga Canyon on a Saturday afternoon; convincing our theater teacher to play “Let’s Dance” during our annual holiday play; improvising an interpretive dance to “Space Oddity” in my parents’ driveway.  I sat at my desk at work and answered text messages and read opinion pieces and news briefs and wondered how one person could inspire so many.

I was clad in black from head-t0-toe, but I still hadn’t cried.

My phone beeped.

It was dad.  He had sent me a YouTube link.  “From the tour we saw,” he said.  “I’m getting a little choked up as I’m remembering you and your friends holding hands and crying to this song.”  As I listened, I, too, became a little choked up, but there was no time for real tears.  Not at work.

I’m home now.  I’m sitting on my bed in my pajamas and I’m looking at the clock wondering how I managed to stay up this late.  I’ve been in this exact situation before — up past my bedtime feeling too wired to sleep and too tired to relax and too anxious about everything I’m doing and not doing — and it’s actually nights like these where Bowie sounds the best.  I couldn’t say exactly why —  maybe something to do with the night sky increasing a spaceship’s visibility.  Perhaps I’ll sleep with my blinds open.

Thanks, Ewan.

Thanks, Lou.

Thanks, dad.

Thanks, Bowie.

Finally — tears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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No One Important Reads My Blog, But You’re All Important to Me.

This is a Dorky Dorky Dorky thing.

This is a Mother Hen thing.

This is a Post That Doesn’t Necessarily Actually Need to Be Posted thing.

I’m not trying to go for a, “Back in high school I’d be hangin’ with Sam and Rado and Shaun” bullshit name-dropping “Behind the Music” thing.

I can’t say, “I can get you backstage.”

I can’t say, “I saw them all last week in my apartment for tempeh taco night.”

I can’t say, “All the guys pitched in to buy me a jukebox with all my favorite songs arranged in chronological order starting from when I fell in love with The Velvet Underground and ending with “Backstreets” by Bruce Springsteen because that’s the only song I wanted to hear last week LOLZ they’re so #sweet.”

None of that.  Much less than that.  Regardless, I’m proud.  I just wanna tell the world, “I’m proud.”

I’m proud they never stopped.  Impressed, really.  Impressed because it was so long ago that I first heard a silly song about a Passport.  Then a song about a Pumpkin Patch.  Then Dog Day Afternoon was parodied [kind of] and Jesus was Fun Fun.  I commented on every MySpace blog from afar because I was a fan and because I meant it and because I had nothing else to do between classes freshman year.  I also requested they make me their tambourine girl, which never happened…

There were live shows.  They were good and they were silly and sometimes they weren’t all that great because they were just boys.  They kept going, though.  They actually kept going, which is the best thing anyone with an idea can do.

Small places.  Bigger places.  Places of some notoriety and then smaller places.  And it was a joke.  And it was serious.  And the songs got better and the shows got better and things changed and changed again.

A year ago someone put on some music and I said, “This is Foxygen,” and he said, “Yeah,” and I said, “Where the hell did you get this?” and he said, “iTunes,” so I went to iTunes and did the same thing, and it was weird, because for the first time I wasn’t getting the music from my younger brother or directly from one of the guys — the guys who were not at my apartment for tempeh taco night but have always been on my radar because Agoura Hills is a small place and we all have to grow up somewhere.

How the fuck did this happen?  How the fuck did I sit down at my computer and find a way to watch them play at Coachella from hundreds of miles away?  Because things have changed.  Globally.  Personally.  Foxygenlly.  You guys are great.  You guys are among my favorites.  You guys make me wanna be a better artist.  You guys make it look easy.

Thank you.  I’m proud of you.  Stay hydrated.

 

 

 

 

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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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