Archives For Culture

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In 1983, none of my friends were dead yet.

In 1983 I was a rose in red overalls, vibrant yet obscure; flushed, tender and fragile.

In 1983 I was 14 and beginning the second longest love affair of my life – with music. Love of literature had taken permanent residence in my brain. Music was located in my heart and in my loins.

 

In 1983 I experienced my first rock concert.

David Bowie. Serious Moonlight Tour. Madison Square Garden, New York City.

 

 

That brutally hot summer I decided to not only attend the concert but to somehow, some way, meet David Bowie. It was pure unadulterated fan girling, and I am not in the least bit embarrassed of it. I would do the same thing today.

My eldest brother, who frequently bounced back between the right and left coasts, was planning to be in New York that July. We made the momentous decision to buy tickets from a scalper and see The Thin White Duke up close and personal – close enough to see (and maybe capture?) the sweat droplets on his face.

I had about $300 saved from babysitting and my crappy summer job. My brother mailed me his $300 and instructions to drain my bank account and contact a ticket scalper via an ad in the Village Voice. It was, to this day, the best $300 I ever spent.

Third row, center.

 

The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars was my first Bowie album. It’s the album responsible for turning David Bowie into a superstar – and me into a lifelong fan. It’s a conceptual masterpiece. Flamboyant fashion and showy theatricality align perfectly with Bowie’s artistic vision.  Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is a rock and roll landmark and THE soundtrack to the glitter/glam movement.

The message? “Freak out in a moonage daydream.”
Oh yeah.

 

I was a 14 year old mesmerized earthling listener when I first heard Bowie as Ziggy, the gender-bending, rock n’ rolling bisexual alien. I was smitten with its epic saga of a space rock star’s ascent to superstardom and his subsequent fall.

I had been reading edgy beat literature since I was 11. This was the summer David Bowie leapt up and throttled my musical sensibility with this raw, sexy, funky, witty, and completely weird record.

It’s a delicious, shimmering slice of pop perfection. I fell into a trance at the footstep drum opening of  ‘Five Years.’ I hung on every note until the last song, the lyrically brilliant  ‘Rock n’ Roll Suicide,’ built to an emphatic climax before finishing with its final, dramatically suspended, violin note.

This was my first David Bowie album, and it will always hold a very special place in my heart.

 

 

Concert day arrived.

I wore an outfit I bought at The Limited: a glittery silver tank top with one strap, cut asymetrically across the front, and red jeans. I teased my hair wildly, and slapped on gobs of eye makeup.

Madison Square Garden is on 34th Street in Manhattan. This area, midtown, was a sordid festival of glitz and debauchery in the 80’s, and I was dressed perfectly for the occasion.

I purchased a single red rose that I planned to present to David Bowie after the concert. I had no idea how I would get it to him, only that I would.

 

Sometimes when we reminisce over past events in our lives, we embellish them into something far more grandiose than they were. Was this really one of the best concerts I have ever seen, or simply the very first?

Answer: Yes.

Bowie performed in a paradoxical style both unhinged and wholly self-controlled. His ambiguous sexuality, outlandishly ornate fashion and makeup, the grand theatricality of the concert and his sheer creativity changed my entire notion of rock music.

The hit song off of his latest album was “Let’s Dance.” As the pop disco beat throbbed a sweaty yet still elegant Bowie performed simple dance moves while crooning in his unmistakable, achingly beautiful honey voice. I was overtaken by a wild urge and as he sang the lyrics, “…and tremble like a flower,” I suddenly tossed my rose to him – which he caught gracefully, never missing a beat.

And made eye contact with me (huge fangirl moment)

I had the 14-year-old version of a spontaneous public orgasm.

 

The story of David Bowie is that of the most colorful and provocative musician/artist in rock music. He managed to remain relevant and relentlessly hip for five decades.

Bowie’s art crossed boundaries of art and reality. He pulled me into his art, into HIS world. This was at age 14, a time in my life when I began to question my own identity and what I was told my identity should be. Many of the choices I made were inexplicably linked to the explosion of freedom that Bowie gifted me.

Moreover, Bowie created an ambiguity to his sexuality, which allowed me to question my own. The cultural norm for tween sexuality in 1983 was very rigid. The uncompromising sexuality of Ziggy Stardust was hugely important in allowing me to confront and overcome sexual taboos. I began to resist rigid sexual identities, which turned into a lifetime of sexual fluidity and openness.

 

 

In 2016 too many of my friends have died.

And with them now goes a cultural icon, a groundbreaking musician who sang his way deeply into my soul. His global legacy was the transformation of musical performance into an art form. His personal gift to me was freedom. And on suffocatingly provincial Staten Island, a place that still has not caught up to the new millennium?

It really WAS as if he were the man who fell to earth.

 

What was your favorite David Bowie song? Did you ever get to see him in concert?
Tell me your Bowie memories. Talk to me, I’m listening. 

 

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Ask Me Anything!

January 7, 2016 — 67 Comments
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Travel Bucket List – Baby Jumping in Spain

 

Welcome to the First Edition of ASK ME ANYTHING, my new series in which I answer my reader’s questions that no one actually asked me!

So, without further ado  – Ask Me Anything!

 

 

1. Did you grow up with brothers and sisters, like a normal human being?

I was the only girl in a family with five brothers, all older than me. During the 1970’s, there was so much sperm flung around our apartment it was like living in the Monkey House at the Bronx Zoo.

 

2. What special writing awards have you won?

Sadly I didn’t qualify for the “I Gave a BlowJob Outside The Holland Tunnel” blog award. However, I WAS runner-up in the “Do You Think An Elephant Can Use a Fluffy Cat as a Tampon” essay contest.

 

3. What is something on your travel Bucket List?

I want to visit the Spanish village of Castrillo de Murcia and participate in “El Colacho,” the baby jumping festival. Parents place their babies in neat rows of pillows on a public street. Then, men dressed in bright red and yellow jumpsuits and grotesque devil masks run down the street, jumping over the rows of babies like Olympic hurdlers.

I’ve been lining up infants and practicing for YEARS.

 

4. Did you really have a chicken as a childhood pet?

Yes, in high school. I named him Dr. Feddy. He accidentally hatched in the biology lab, and was quite ill with irritable bowel syndrome as a baby chick. I nursed him back to health, even cleaning poo off his little chicken anus.

As he grew, I used to let him run around in the bathtub for exercise. When he started all that ‘cock-a-doodle-dooing‘ at dawn, my mom brought him to a farm so he could run free with the other chickens.

 

I just realized my mom was a lying hooker.

 

5. How do discipline with your child?

I aggravate the shit out of him with outdated rap expressions.

“Boo, you better break yourself, cause that is some chickenhead move! Finish your homework so we can go to Gamestop and get flossy, dude! No diggity!”

Translation: Honey, please stop trying to set the house on fire. It’s ill-advised. Finish your homework so we can go to Gamestop and buy you the video games that incite you to commit arson to begin with. I promise.

Flossy –   The lesser known and unloved cousin of “jiggy.” Used to express one’s burning desire to be Flashy and Showy, while simultaneously reminding white folks about the importance of routine dental care.

 

6. Is it true you don’t like theme parks? Why?

I have terrible motion sickness. Growing up, we kept a pail in our station wagon for me to hurl in when I got car sick. To this day, I can’t go on rides. Once, when I was a kid, some family took me on “Rent A Poor Kid Day” to Six Flags something or other, and I threw up 17 times.

 

7. Do you have a pet peeve?

I LOSE IT when I get stuck in voice prompt purgatory. It is actually the Tenth Circle of Dante’s Hell.

“Please listen carefully to our menu options as they have changed” is a WHORE. They’re all changing their menu options daily and I can’t even remember why I started this sentence. Who is responsible for this? I will personally give that person a project girl beat-down.

When trapped in the Tenth Circle I start drooling and chant REPRESENTATIVE, REPRESENTATIVE, REPRESENTATIVE.

 

8. What is the first thing you do as soon as you wake up in the morning?

Make espresso. Twice. I have a 12-year-old with ADHD. He vaults out of bed like someone shoved a spring-loaded tampon up his ass. He talks until my ears bleed.

The best way to protect myself from this verbal onslaught is with copious alcohol consumption, but then I have trouble navigating the drop-off loop at his school. And we walk, so you can imagine my confusion.

 

9. Do you have a New Years resolution for 2016?

I want to stop swearing in front of my kid, which most often occurs when I’m driving. The insertion of the ignition key directly stimulates the foul mouth limbic center of my brain. Last week I called a pedestrian an Eskimo whore, which Little Dude questioned for 10 minutes. I also forget that he’s a kid sometimes, and answer him like an adult. Last summer, I was looking at booty shorts at Target, and he said, “You can’t wear those!” To which I replied, “Oh yeah? Watch me, MOTHERFUCKER!”

 

10. Is there something on your sexual bucket list?

Yes. I would like to douse myself in over-the-counter numbing cream containing 4% lidocaine, then sit on my partner backwards but not feel anything or in fact, even know I’m there. It’s called Reverse Stranger.

 

11. What was the worst nightmare you ever had?

I have a recurring nightmare in the form of a science fiction film. In the post-apocalyptic world, Year One Million and a Half, seagulls are currency and giraffes are a predatory species which rule the world. Giraffes are my favorite animal, but in my nightmare, they’ve turned vicious.They don’t bite, but they swing their heads which comes in like a wrecking ball. Giraffes weigh 3000 pounds and sleep only 20 minutes a day. Imagine one of those cranky fuckers chasing you at high speed.

Human kind, enslaved by giraffes. Giraffic Park.

 

Stay tuned for my next installment of Ask Me Anything! If you have any real questions, leave them in the comments and I might even answer them.

So ask me anything. I’m listening.

 

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Fluffing In Portland

January 1, 2016 — 87 Comments

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It should come as no surprise to anyone that freaky-deaky Portland is the first place that I felt like I fit in since I left New York.

While in Portland,  I was chatting with Beth, and I mentioned that I wasn’t able to get together with Ned, who lives in Oregon, because of the flooding.
She replied, “I didn’t realize it was still fluffing!”

 fluffing

 

Girl, it’s ALWAYS fluffing in Portland.
 

I traditionally spend Christmas with my college bestie and her family. Her oldest daughter lives in Portland, and this year, ten of us traveled there for the holidays.

We stayed at an Airbnb. For the uninitiated, an Airbnb is when you pay to stay in someone’s house, and pray they’re not a meth head with a vermin problem.

There was one other person there, a thirty-something dude who blazed up and coded with Java script all day. Every morning, while we ate breakfast, we watched Java Man do his 10 am bong hits on the terrace.

Little Dude got to see some of Portland’s coolest stuff, like the OMSI, (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry), where we toured an actual submarine. That went splendidly, especially the part where I clawed the tour guide for air and screamed “WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE DOWN HERE!!!”

Afterwards, I had to soothe myself with a trip to the famous Voodoo Doughnuts, and purchase a Cock-N-Balls doughnut.

Little Dude also had quite the unofficial sightseeing experience. He spent an entire week with my wacky wonderful friends, who were inebriated most of the time. The very first night, F-bombs and dick jokes were flying. Christmas night, ten of us played Cards Against Humanity, where my 12-year-old was treated to such phrases as “coughed into a vagina.”

I’m blaming it all on Portland.

 

COFFEE

Ahhh, the Elixir of the Gods. Portlanders take their coffee seriously. They go nuts for obscure beans, like Formosan Rock Monkey coffee. They brew it in state of the art machinery that looks like it belongs in a steampunk sex dungeon.

Nobody goes to Starbucks for evil corporate caffeine. Portland residents frequent independent coffee shops staffed by skinny white dudes with full sleeve tattoos and plaid western shirts who listen to Neutral Milk Hotel.

 

WELCOME TO PORTLAND; NOW GO HOME

Portlanders are not thrilled by the influx of misfits from all over the country. Portland is like the nerdy girl in those hackneyed teen movies who never gets asked out, because she wears glasses and has her hair in a bun. Then, she lets down her bun (only not if she’s a guy, manbuns are cool) and takes off her glasses (except glasses are sexy in Portland…)

Okay, that was a bad example.

Portland is the skinny girl who sprouted breasts over summer vacation and becomes suddenly popular. Naturally, they’re a little suspicious. Twenty years ago, no one gave a half a fuck about Portland and now the entire country has a boner for Oregon.

Portlanders are generally super friendly, but I did wander into a few places where I felt distinctly unwelcome. One coffeehouse, housed in a raw industrial warehouse, had a discernibly restrictive vibe.

You know that vibe? Where you feel as if you’ve  wandered into a rural cult compound and everyone celebrates the arrival of an outsider by tying you to a banquet table, putting on their ceremonial animal masks, and drinking your blood from a chalice? THAT.

 

PORTLAND IS WEIRD AND ARTSY

You’re surrounded by Hipster Apple fanboys with 2% body fat, who didn’t get the memo that mutton chops are only sexy on Confederate generals. Did you know that plaid is scary? Yes, I know you think of it as innocuous little pattern of perpendicular strips and bands, but when worn in a cluster? It’s positively frightening.

No one has clear-cut occupations in Portland. Some do something vague and techy that leaves them a whole lot of time to hang out in jock straps while hot boxing weed. Others set up their laptops at the coffee shop down the street, where they divide their time between applying for odd jobs on Craigslist and writing (free) articles for Thought Catalog.

Everyone is an artist/intellectual. They write poetry or unicycle with flamethrower bagpipes or play the didgeridoo. There’s even an artsy intellectual sex toy store – She Bop. They offer sex education classes. If you’re in Portland, you can go there to learn about anal sex, cunnilingus, or how to give a more fabulous blow job.
 
You’re welcome.

 

PORTLAND IS CRAFTY

The heart of Portland beats to an Artisanal beat. There are more yarn stores here per capita than any other city in the US, in case you want to take up knitting – a slow, frustrating, repetitive hobby that will enrage you.

There’s a reason Portland is so crafty. Aside from Hipsters, the city is teeming with regular ol’ hippies. They wake at the crack of noon, and have a full day of smoking pot, protesting progress and reason, playing hackey sack and seeing how long they can go without bathing before they become infested with ticks.

However, hippies without trust funds must do some sort of work in order to buy weed and overpriced organic hippie food. Hence, the craft markets. The hippies sell their hippie crap to tourists like me, because apparently I can’t visit the city and leave without a Dorodango mud ball and jewelry made of plastic baby heads.

 

WALKING AND BIKING AND STROLLERS, OH MY!

Everyone walks everywhere, even though it ALWAYS RAINS.

No one in my suburban neighborhood walks. The only exercise I get is reverse cowgirl  reaching for things in the back seat of my car.

In New York City people walk, but there’s no rhyme or reason to the flow of sidewalk traffic. Groups of people walk five-abreast. They treat walking down the street like a struggle for pack dominance

Portland pedestrians are very civil. It’s the hipster dads pushing doublewide monster strollers you have to watch out for. There has to be a way to stack kids vertically. How about putting your favorite kid on top?

There are more people on bikes than on cars. I personally am not a cyclist. But I understand it’s part of their fanatic need to help the environment. Portlandians also ride out of a sense of community. Nekkid community. Portland hosts the annual “World Naked Bike Ride.” OW. Bicycle seats hurt my delicate smush mitten – and that’s clothed.

HOW do people get on those double-decker bikes, which are essentially two bikes welded together, one on top of the other? They usually ride with steampunk glasses and top hats, in case they don’t stand out enough.
 
 

Yep, Portland feels like home.

I plan to return this summer.
I’m a little concerned about the lack of central air conditioning in 90 degree weather. Who the DICKWOLF designed apartments without air conditioning?!! Apparently, in summer a Portland home become an oven in Satan’s tool shed.

On a positive note, I’ll be able to fill a growler with my own sweat and sell it at a crafts fair.

 

Have you ever lived in or visited Portland? What is up with all the weirdos? Do you live in a different weird city? 
Talk to me. I’m listening. 
 

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“You HAVE to come with me next time!” my college BFF slurred drunkenly over the phone from Little Rock, Arkansas. She was having a musical epiphany at a 3-day festival and called to let me hear some obscure band play over her iPhone.

No, actually, I don’t. I don’t want to go anywhere where I contract hepatitis from a porta potty.

The Internet has killed the retail music industry. Now, we must spend a gazillion dollars travelling to festivals to hear obscure genres like “sock puppet poon tang” and “tropical beaty bop-pop-a-roonie”

Music festivals aren’t for people who actually like music. They’re for people who want to get chemically annihilated in a humongous crowd while trawling for similarly wasted sexual partners. People who eschew silly amenities like food and water to camp out in the mud for a week. People who like to experience music as tiny insects a mile away, performing songs you have to watch on a Jumbotron. Sort of like watching them on YouTube, only far less comfortable.

Here are some of the music festivals I WON’T be going to. EVER.

 

COACHELLA

After you sell a lung to pay the $1000 to get in, it’s only a 50 mile hike –  in a 150-degree California desert sandstorm – to the festival entrance.

If you actually want to see a band, be prepared to stand for 12 hours in the blistering heat. Just be prepared for the Douche Brigade to come muscling their way to the front at the last minute. The 6-foot dude in a velvet patchwork top hat will plant himself right in front of you. Natch.

Coachella is a great place to feel body-shamed, in case you don’t already have that hangup. People train ALL YEAR for their “Coachella bodies” so they can wear as little clothing as possible. It’s crawling with skinny models dressed in Urban Outfitter’s finest. Fashion is foremost to these fringe-laden, hula-hooping, drugged-out hipsters.

If you do opt for clothing, Native American is de rigueur, which is French for “I look like an asshole.” You may not see any bands, but you’ll see oodles of molly-stoned millennials in Navajo Indian headdresses groping each other.

 

 

BURNING MAN

“The Burn,” as its cult devotees refer to it, is not really a music festival. It’s a week-long art festival which allegedly provides spiritual enlightenment in an obscure corner of the Nevada desert.

Event promoters describe it as a “radical experiment in self-expression,” but it’s 70,000 loonytunes camping out in the desert while engaged in Bacchanalian drinking, drugging and sex. Newbies are greeted with “WELCOME HOME!!” by seasoned burners with names like “Captain Pajama Pants.”

Burning Man is the antithesis to Coachella’s gym-honed perfection. Here you get leathery old bare-assed hippies, ravaged by time and psychotropic drugs. Middle-aged, middle class men in particular love to drop their inhibitions and their pants at Burning Man, so be prepared for a veritable cornucopia of naked testicles drooping like turkey wattles.

If you ARE dressed, you must be in a costume. Otherwise some self-righteous druggie perv with herpes on his lip, dressed as the big rat from Chuck E Cheese, will lecture you on participation.

I’d love to trip balls in the desert and dance around dressed in nothing but a python and duct tape over my nipples, but I have a life, a kid and I job. I can’t pencil in a trip to the desert to get so high I shit myself.

The grand finale of this hippie-flavored shindig is the burning of the actual 60-foot wooden Burning Man. I enjoy a good orgasm of flames and destruction as much as the next pyro, but I’m not interested in being asphyxiated while 70,000 frenzied stoners perform the hippie version of a Ku Klux Klan rally.

Not if I have to sign a waiver that reads:
“I acknowledge and fully understand that as a participant, I will be engaging in activities that involve risk of serious injury, including permanent disability and death.”

 

 

ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL

If you’re wondering who the hell listens to that soulless, inhuman, repetitive nonsense known as “EDM” (electronic dance music), they’re all here.

Electric Daisy Carnival is a souped up, super-size rave, for people who don’t realize that raves have been over for two decades. It was cool when it was an “underground secret warehouse” culture, but like anything else that’s been commercialized, it’s a ferocious, brutal appropriation conveniently adapted for mass consumption. It’s rave folklore packaged for your 14-year-old kid.

Electric Daisy Carnival is a stage in a parking lot, full of kids with suckers in their mouths and gas masks on, getting obliterated. For three days, the same three minutes of music plays on repeat. Teeny boppers sporting knee-high fake fur and tutus have no clue what they’re listening to. All they care about is taking selfies as they flash peace signs and make duck faces.

And then there are the “Bros.” The frat boys who once inebriated themselves to Dave Matthews Band are now wearing neon tank tops with “TURN UP” in block letters and careening around to Deadmau5. The ‘roided up bro culture loves aggressively loud music they can break into gorilla-ish fights to.

And the line up? It sounds like porn. All these DJs have sex-toy names. Max Enforcer, Dirtyphonics, Gigamesh, Delta Heavy. I don’t want to listen to music made by people who sound like menacing dildos.

The EDM industry is a music industry cash cow. They’re repackaging old techno as something new and selling it to an audience who doesn’t know any better. Of course the music sounds good when you’ve lined your nasal passages with pure crystallized MDMA. I could play “Gangnam Style” in a room full of EDM fans blown up on Molly,  and by the second verse I guarantee each and every one of them would be having the time of their lives. By the end of the song I could convince them it was actually a symbolic anthem regarding the struggle of a divided Korea.

You can do ingest all the drugs you want, but for fuck’s sake, don’t let those substances convince you that Electric Daisy Carnival is the event of a lifetime. You’re just ball-hair blasted and listening to a glorified Mrs. Pac-Man soundtrack.

 

Would you camp out in the woods at these events? What music festivals won’t you be attending? 
When did I get so old that these festivals are no longer fun? 
Talk to me.  I’m listening. 

 

 

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