Friday, July 30, 2010

when we get crazy, it just ain't right

Last night I saw Chromeo - who you might remember, I am mildly obsessed with - play at the Bowery Ballroom. It was a super fun show and watching Dave 1 perform live just cemented my love for him, for several reasons, which I will now detail.

1. He is awkward. Like, this man is not cool. He seems cool, because he dresses really well and he plays guitar and he writes music. But he is not cool. He sort of bumbled around awkwardly on the stage, and didn't seem entirely comfortable performing. Not in a bad way - more in a "I know I'm not cool but all these people think I'm so cool" kind of way.
2. You can tell he just fucking loves what he is doing. He was grinning like a goof ball the entire show.
3. He is so. fucking. cute.
4. They played a cover of The Eagles' "I Can't Tell You Why," and I just about fell over when he strummed those first five notes on his guitar, because I knew immediately what it was. I grew up on this shit. My mom has the Hell Freezes Over live album, which is a recording of the first concert The Eagles did after they "broke up" (or not, or whatever) 16 years prior. My parents owned (and still own) a giant speaker system that they keep in the living room, and I can remember listening to that album basically on repeat on Saturdays while my mom cleaned the house, and I pretended to help. Also, in the car. We listened to it non-stop in the car. It's so interesting to listen to a live recording of music before the studio recorded version, because the live version becomes your understanding of what that music is. I'm actually not sure I've ever even heard the studio version of this song. It seems appropriate that 15 years later I would hear it played live, for real, by the man I may or may not be in love with.



In conclusion, I am probably insane. And I have decided that I will marry Dave 1, and if I do not marry him, I will become him.

 Badass.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

hipster hymnal


Apparently God is on Facebook. If I friend him, will he friend me back? When I post this blog post to my status post, will he "like" it? These are the questions I ask myself as I fall asleep.

Last night was part two of Zac's going away party, part one being a total shit show at St. Jerome's on Rivington where Luc Carl served us beers and I pondered how he used to fuck (and apparently maybe still does?!!) Lady Gaga before she was Lady Gaga. I don't even know if I've written about it here, but he is moving to New Orleans. Zac, not Luc Carl. Just for a bit is the plan and unlike most people his just for a bit usually means just for a bit. Not like when people say, I hate this job, but I'm gonna stay here just for a bit until I find something better, and then they work there until they're 60 and they retire and suddenly they wonder where their lives went and then they die of cancer or a heart attack or something caused by sitting at a desk for forty years while they were getting ready to quit to find something better. No, not like that. Just for a bit, then it's off with the winds.

Last night, Jenny showed us an amazing film she made about our friends and our lives in New York. I teared up once and stayed teared up for a few minutes. Then I laughed and felt OK, but just OK, and today I have an OK hangover, which is sort of worse than a whiskey hangover. When you're reading a book, finishing a chapter isn't nearly as painful as finishing the book itself. When you finish a chapter, it's on to the next one, but when you finish the book you put it down and just cry cry cry because now that book is gone forever and you can never see it again the way you saw it the first time you read it. At least that's what I do. I read books slowly.

Last night, I played guitar in front of people for the first time ever outside of my guitar class. I played guitar by myself in front of people for the first time ever. I was scared shitless, and it was only 7 people, my friends sitting in my apartment on my floor listening to my voice. It's possible that I have never been that scared in my entire life. Turns out, playing guitar in front of people is absolutely nothing like playing guitar alone in one's bedroom. You have to deal with a lot of things that just aren't  concerns when you're alone in your bedroom. I was emotional, and I was nervous, and I was a little drunk and tired, so I forgot lyrics and I flubbed up chords. But two months after the very first time I picked up a guitar, I played a whole song, and I sang, and everyone applauded and told me I did a good job. I felt bad that I messed up so much, but I was touched by everyone's support. I thought about how I could have done better, then realized I didn't remember a damn thing I had done, right or wrong. The only thing to do better is to keep playing guitar.

Last night, after everyone left, I watched Zac and Jenny re-enact a scene from that movie Salt with Angelina Jolie, which I haven't seen, in his almost but not quite empty bedroom. They were upside-down and sideways and their hands were in the air and tied behind their backs with invisible chains. They described a couple scenes in which Angelina's character kills the bad guys, and they laughed and I thought about violence in films. How sometimes, and perhaps more often than not, we suspend reality so that we can feel a certain way, because we want to feel that way, because we need to feel that way.

Like sometimes on my way to work I stop at the bodega on the corner right outside the 6 stop at 103rd street, to get a juice or a coffee or a water pumped with vitamins. Each time I go in, I do a delicate dance with the gaggle of folks gathered at the counter using their pennies to scratch off their cards promising them the opportunity to win their millions. They suspend everything about reality to focus on this one little hope, some double digits strewn across perforated cardboard, nothing but ink on cardboard, but it's everything to them. Most of them will never win, and they know it. They have to know it, somewhere. I fish a dollar out of my wallet to pay for my drink. A dollar a drink, a dollar a dream.

Sometimes long songs seem short, and sometimes short songs seem really long. I haven't decided which is better. I guess it depends on how we want to feel, how we need to feel, what we are willing to suspend on that particular day in that particular moment. My pause and play buttons for suspension, and I suppose thereby for reality, aren't working very well recently.

They're worn out.

Monday, July 26, 2010

now i lay me down to sleep


Sometimes I have this fever dream.
I walk around the edges of my room,
Tracing my fingertips along the walls,
Pretending they’re your body.

That way,
I would always be surrounded by you,
And I could sleep inside of you.
You would protect me from rain and snow and sleet,
And you would always keep the light on for me, 
If I feared the darkness.

You’d have a doorway,
And I could leave whenever I wanted,
But I’d always know you’d be there when I came back.
You’d hold onto all my things for me,
My whole world inside of you,
And that’s where I’d want it to be.

That’s where I want it to be,
Because sometimes I read you’re welcome as thank you,
And sometimes I feel my weight pulled onto the Earth when I’d like to fly into the planets.

Because sometimes I stumble through the roses you send,
I lay them out to dry and then I tack them to my walls.
I hope you don’t mind.

video

Friday, July 23, 2010

unipulse

Seeing a girl snort coke out of her purse at the LCD show made me wonder
How much art is made
To keep the drugged masses at bay

We are a drugged culture. We live in a culture of alcohol. It's considered normal. I've seen more people lose themselves in an alcoholic oblivion than I care to count. I like nights like tonight when I get high off music, thumping bass pulsing under my toes and through my veins and into my brain. Synapses firing and starting up again, refusing the trespass of fatigue. I don't feel tired when I dance. I felt like I could go on all night, except my feet hurt. But I could just remove my shoes and keep going. When music moves me, it makes me move. A bass drop is a vitamin B12 injection directly into my eyelids. I forget who I am, where I am, who I'm not, where I'm not. I am just alive. I am just bouncing. I don't feel happy, or not feel happy. I don't feel, I just am.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

a stroll in dumbo


I am obsessed with the rain because I can’t hear it anymore.
I am obsessed with the clouds because I don't see them anymore.
I am obsessed with my childhood because it won't have me anymore.
I am obsessed with my childhood because I’m trying to reclaim it.
I am obsessed with myself because it’s all I’ve got and know I'll have forever.
I am obsessed with the universe because it is the only immeasurable thing.
I am obsessed with the female orgasm because it is the only immeasurable thing.
I am obsessed with you because you give me hope in the dark.
I am enthralled by you because you don’t like to think of what you do to me.
And I am in love with you because only the thought of you turns me inside out.
Only that.

Monday, July 19, 2010

southern hem, northern haw


what i feel when i'm playing guitar is completely cold and crazy, like i don't owe nobody nothing and it's just a test just to see how far i can relax into the cold wave of a note. when everything hits just right (just and right) the note of nobility can go on forever. i never tire of the solitary E and i trust my guitar and i don't care about anything. sometimes i feel like i've broken through and i'm free and i could dig into eternity into eternity riding the wave and realm of the E. sometimes it's useless. here i am struggling and filled with dread—afraid that i'll never squeeze enough graphite from my damaged cranium to inspire or asphyxiate any eyes grazing like hungry cows across the stage or page. inside of me i'm crazy i'm just crazy. inside i must continue. i see her, my stiff muse, jutting around round round round like a broken speeding statue. the colonial year is dead and the greeks too are finished. the face of alexander remains not only solely due to sculpture but through the power and foresight and magnetism of alexander himself. the artist must maintain his swagger. he must he must he must be intoxicated by ritual as well as result. look at me i am laughing. i am laughing. i am lapping cocaine from the hard brown palm of the bouncer. and i trust my guitar. therefore we black out together. therefore i would run through scum. and scum is just ahead, ah we see it, but we just laugh. we're ascending through the hollow mountain. we are peeking. we are laughing. we are kneeling. we are laughing. we are radiating at last. this rebellion is just a gas our gas a gas that we pass. 

 

ya bangin on my heart's wammy bar
the vibrations reverb verb verb through my fingers
i get down on my knees
for you



I am peaches in September, and corn from a roadside stall
I'm the language of the natives, I'm a cadence and a drawl
I am a town.
 

Sitting in a bookstore in Dumbo, I see a child walk in.
It smells like ice cream! he exclaims.
I don't smell it, but I'm sure he's right.
I awoke from a dream.
I had been dreaming of Patti and Basquiat.
I awoke with menstrual cramps and hobbled bleary-eyed to the bathroom.
I went in and turned the light on but it blinded me so I shut it back off.
I was still asleep, really, as I felt like I was Patti and Basquiat, or at least belonged to them.
Or perhaps they belonged to me.
And I thought I was giving birth to them.
I thought about Just Kids,
How it was my second mother,
How my natural-born mother birthed me
And how that book birthed me again,
Anew.
For without it I would not exist.
I moaned in pain,
Thinking I was somehow returning the favor.
I thought of Patti hunched over shredding her guitar.
 I thought of how Basquiat died at only 27.
I thought of people with PBR tattoos.
I debated whether or not to take a pain pill.
I turned the light back on so I could see my blood,
Make sure it was the right kind and not the wrong kind.
My eyes cleared at last and I wondered how long I had been in that bathroom.
The sun was up now,
6 AM in Harlem, 
Birds tweeting.
What kind of vision was this?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Weeklong Series: Young Love, Part Five

For the last day of the series, I picked a card Jacob got me for one of our anniversaries. We dated for 5+ years, and we celebrated each passing year like we were legit, married adults. It obviously didn't turn out that way, but we spent basically every waking hour - and sometimes, when we were real lucky, sleeping ones as well - together and we were completely in love so it seemed only natural. We bought gifts and cards and had "fancy" dates at our favorite restaurants.

This card had a puppy pile on the front and he drew a heart on the front of the envelope. The words inside are among the most direct ways I've had a person express his feelings to me. They are simple, clear and lovely - as well as being defiantly youthful, hopeful and naive - a great way to sum up the week.

--



Hey!
   I gave you this card because I knew the feeling that you would probably get from seeing the picture on the front. It is probably the same feeling I get sometimes from you... but more often I have several feelings of that sincerity and warmth for every single time I really gaze at you. Those feelings, I think, will always be there; I really hope they will. I hope I give you everything you show to me, because you are so rich with emotions that you give. I have been deepening in tenderness to you everyday since I met you. You are a beautiful, warm person to which I would love to eternally hold hands with...

With so much love,
Jacob

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Weeklong Series: Young Love, Part Four

The following note was written on receipt paper. For a while Jacob worked at a pet store, so I assume that's where this came from. We often wrote each other notes and stuck them under the windshield wipers before or after school so that we would be surprised after school or band practice - this explains why the paper is so damn wrinkled while most of the notes were folded and nicely kept. He signed his name "Jamob" because we went through a stage where we would rearrange the letters in our full names, thus misspelling them on purpose. I would be "Mebham" or something and he would be "Jamob." Sounds so stupid now, but it was endearing at the time.

When I was home I also found the ticket stubs to a lot of the movies we saw together, and they're pretty amazing because some of them are from films I now rank in my favorite films of all time (The Ring, top 50; Vanilla Sky, top 10) - it's just so cool that I still have this shit. It's really interesting to note how cheap a movie used to be: in 2002 in Alabama, it was 7.50 to get into a movie at night, and 5.50 during the day. Last week, I paid $19 to see Toy Story 3 in 3D in NYC at night, and $12 to see it again in Alabama during the afternoon. NINETEEN DOLLARS. Vom.

--


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Weeklong Series: Young Love, Part Three

As high school students, our problems were minimal. I went to the magnet school at a public high school, and the two schools shared a campus. Jacob went to the public school, so we only saw each other in the mornings, sometimes at lunch, and after school in band practice (there was only one marching band between the two schools, and Jacob and I were both involved). We were often annoyed by our fellow students, our teachers, and our assignments. We took refuge in each other, acting as listening posts for each other's complaints. We often stood in stark contrast to the bullshit we dealt with on a daily basis, and told each other as much. The following note illustrates the roles we happily played for each other, in addition to perhaps highlighting how seriously we took our wimpy little problems.

--


Hey,
    It is the start of third block and I am lonely, tired and hungry. I miss you so dearly during the day. I am almost tired for ninety percent of the day. Working myself like this is no easy task; too much altogether is the burden of school and work. I did not too do so well on the last calculus test. Ms. Helms thought all the grades were so bad as to have us re-work through most of what we learned. I'm still mocked for having an A in that class and bothered constantly for help. Maybe they do not understand how much time I really take to try and understand it all. Every night I spend about 15 minutes on at least thinking over every theorum, law and lesson. About 45 minutes more simply doing homework, and I still rarely finish it all. I know I don't spent a large amount of time on it, but the time spent is time I'd rather be sleeping or doing a thousand other things. They can take away their time and have the exact same thing and the same understanding as well.
   Anyway, the few comforts I have, I rarely get as much as I'd like of. My greatest comfort in life right now is you... and even then other people find ways to rob that experience; particularly _______. Please do not let her rob our enjoyment.
   The only thing that is really inspiring me academically right now is you. Your work ethic is something that inspires much awe by itself. Some reason, it translates to me and gives me more joy and confidence in myself than you can imagine. In this way, you have done so much to improve my future.
   Right now, I can't stop thinking about how our skin feels together. Sometimes you might be cold, but you are ALWAYS warm to me. Wrapping you and myself up in a blanket and just laying and breathing together - that would be nice. I hope for the day that I can watch you sleep all night until the moment your beautiful eyes slowly open. Meghan Cori Blalock, I will always love you.

Sincerely,
Jacob

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Weeklong Series: Young Love, Part Two

Sometimes Jacob wrote me notes just to remind me of how he felt about me, and I did the same for him. These notes especially embody young, enthusiastic, obsessive, emo love at its best. The following note was written during my brief affair with vegetarianism, which was during my sophomore year of high school - so 2001 or 2002. This note was of the rare typed variety, but on the front he hand-wrote a greeting.

--


Hey!
   I decided to type you a note for once. Weird isn't it? I just want to convey how much you really mean to me; which I know is impossible to really do, but I'll try, if not, but only for your pleasure.
   First, you are the one person I call a true best friend in my life, and the only person I'd honestly want to be best friends with. I can say that even if I haven't met anyone in existence comfortably because of how wonderful a person you are. You are a person I am trying so hard to be like (with exception to your "no chicken, pork or fish clause"!... just kidding...); I really wish to be a part of you. I still feel no barrier in where I end and you begin.
   And I'm glad that me just looking on to you makes you vocally joyful, although I'll try not to let your "vocal enjoyments" disrupt your flute playing. I hope I can always make you laugh...
   And if someone could stop the rain while it was falling, still drops in air, the beauty of a billion crystal-like still droplets, randomly placed... everyone ordained by God, it would simply remind me of what it's like to look into your eyes....
   You do so much for me, and I have only myself to do for you. You make me so at peace inside myself. It is truly a rare feeling to be calm for me now, with so much going on, but I do not even have to consider the fact that your hug might not bring me at peace.
   I hope this conveys a small portion of what I feel for you...
   With love always
   Your Jacob

Monday, July 12, 2010

Weeklong Series: Young Love, Part One

Last time I was home in Alabama, back in April, I found the shoebox I formerly used to store all the notes my high school boyfriend Jacob - the first boy I fell madly in love with - wrote to me. I sat down and read through all of them, and was touched by their sweetness, youth, innocence, and sincere love. I decided then that I wanted to share them with the world somehow, and I contacted Jacob to ask for his permission to do some sort of project with them. He's married with a child now, and he told me he would probably be slightly embarrassed of what he had written, but gave me his blessing to do with them what I wished. This week, I'll post a new note from him everyday, leaving them mostly unedited. Regrettably, I don't have any notes that I wrote to him, so this coverage will be incredibly unbalanced. But it is what it is.

Most of the notes don't have dates on them, but they were all written between 2001 and 2003, when Jacob graduated, making some of them almost ten years old. We started dating when I was 15 and dated until right after I turned 21. Jacob was really artistic, and on a lot of his notes he would create drawings or write my name in a really cool script. I'll also post here any drawings included on the original notes.

I'm sharing these not to be overly forthcoming with intimate details of my life, but because I think they are such an amazing capsule of young love. I think back on this time of my life with only fondness and some lingering breathlessness, remembering what it felt like to be so enamored with another human being. Although I have loved others since then, nothing quite compares to that experience. The notes also have a tinge of sadness to them, since this relationship, like most things in life, eventually came to an end. But when we were writing to each other, we were unbounded by time, and simply assumed we would feel this way forever.

Jacob and I typically passed notes to each other before school or during lunch, and we read them during class or whenever we had time. The following note is especially amazing to me because it was written long before I decided to go to college at Ole Miss in Oxford.

--



Hey!

    I had an interesting first block... We talked about Faulkner a lot and his works. Most of his works intertwine with each other, like one major character in one book might be a minor character in another. He also uses the town of Jefferson in Yoknoptawpha County, Mississippi in a lot of works; Mrs. Frye says that the fictional names are actually Oxford in Lafette County, Mississippi, in real life -- but I don't know how she knows this. Supposively, he played with stream of consciousness too... which is really interesting.
    Anyway, I hope you do well this afternoon! I don't think you'll have any trouble making the [dance] team though... not from what I witnessed anyway.
   I think I hate my Sanish class partially because it's so loud. There is all sorts of talking, annoying voices, a loud teacher than knows little more than Spanish and French. ::sigh::
   I am glad that my classes are the biggest of my worries. But yeah, I'm looking forward to this weekend... Call me after your tryouts are over with and tell me how you did. This is long!
   I love you very very very very very very very very very very much.
   Jacob

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gate 5A

We live in a world where children and adults alike are obsessed with colorful rubber bracelets shaped like animals. Except that they're only shaped like animals until you slide them onto your wrist - then they're just shaped like squiggly circles. All these people, I think, have in common that they like to distort and be distorted. And they partially like these things because everyone else does, or at least seems to.

Anyone who says the mass appeal of a thing doesn't make it less attractive is either lying or desperately holding onto their childhood. The first time I saw the animal v. squiggly bracelets, a little girl on the train was wearing them and passing them back and forth with her little sister. That day, I was wearing rubber bracelets too. They were neon and had little gold and silver charms dangling off them, and I felt an instant connection with this tiny human. Like I was looking into the past and she was looking back at me.

Then, a couple weeks later, I started to notice those very same bracelets on other children on other trains. Then on adults. Then on my contemporaries. I felt like something had been stolen from me. In my moment with that little girl, I had seen something. And now my vision was gone. Either that, or everyone else saw exactly what I had seen. Either way, something once living was dead.

I hate those bracelets now. They follow me and haunt me. La Guardia Airport sells them, in packs of 20 or 30 or 50, for the low cost of your individuality. I see them while I'm standing lockjawed at a checkout counter, trying to help the cashier figure out how much change she owes me. I gave her $20.50 for a bag of chocolate-covered peanuts that cost $4.34. I silently bemoan our nation's rudimentary education system, until I realize that I'm mindlessly fishing my iPhone out of my bag to double-check the math, my own insecurity the reel on the hook.

Over the loudspeaker a very gay flight attendant announces that Jonathan Singer is late for his flight to Savannah. Suh-van-uh. I think to myself, popping peanuts into my mouth, that Jonathan Singer sounds like a name I've heard. Jonathan Singer sounds like a famous writer. Jonathan Singer sounds like he has something to say that the world needs to hear. I pop more peanuts and decide I'll google him later.

I walk by the frozen yogurt stand, which at 8 p.m. has been gated and shuttered, prompting my peanut purchase. This is of course the only time I've ever craved frozen yogurt while inside La Guardia. I take this as a very bad omen and think about what it would feel like to be inside a plane that is crashing to the ground. I think about tweeting my concerns, hoping that such a tweet would jinx the universe into not letting me die. The universe, however, does not respond to pinch/poke/you owe me some coke.

Sitting at my gate, I see that the girl across from me is carrying three items: a LeSportSac, a Longchamp, and a Crumbs bag filled with cupcakes. The holy trinity of consumerism. I imagine her ambling through her parents' front door, presenting them with cupcakes which they then cut with plasticware and share before bedtime. They hug her and tell her how proud they are of her for moving to the big city and starting to make a life for herself. She divides her face with a pretty little smile, wondering why the kitchen counters suddenly look so small and far away.

Behind me, I hear a jump rope hitting the carpet. I hear the distinct mmph-whack-mmph-whack-mmph-whack of plastic rope hitting carpet. I recall that sound vividly from a million gym classes of my childhood, plastic rope against rubber floor and sometimes against flesh legs when kids miscalculated the distance between their soles and the floor. I whip my head around to discover it is the sound of a woman's flip-flops slapping against the heels of her feet as she hurries from gate to gate. My heart sinks deep into my abdomen, anchoring me to the sticky pleather seat.

I wonder if pilots think about how easy it would be to crash a plane each time they find themselves behind the controls. I know I would.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lady Gaga, parts one, two and hot

So yesterday was the hottest day so far this year in New York Mothafuckin' City. It was also the day Zac and I sat outside from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. to be among the first in the door at the Lady Gaga concert. For the mathematically challenged, that's TEN HOURS. It was hot, but it was bearable, because we're both from the dirrty dirrty and we know the meaning of true heat. Yesterday was nothin.

We were sixth in line to get in the door, which totally made the wait worth it. The day before, we went grocery shopping and bought (in true Southern fashion) enough groceries to last us a week. We packed our food and headed out our East Harlem door around 8:30 yesterday morning. We got in line at nine and spent all day talking with other Gaga fans, including a gaggle of adorable Europeans who had flown to the city just for the concert and were first in line. It was a fun time.

And, natch, we were interviewed several times by local news organizations. Here's the video taken by my new favorite reporter, Lindsay Meeks, from the New York Daily News. It's fucking amazing.



I also wanted to include here, for the first time ever, an essay I wrote way back in January after I saw Lady Gaga the first time. It was my inaugural attempt at summing up this amazing artist in 1,500 words or less. I submitted it to Gotham's website but it was too long and never got published. It's still relevant, especially since I just saw her for the second time, and I wanted to share it.

---

Don’t you ever let a soul in the world tell you that you can’t be exactly who you are. – Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is two months and one week younger than me. She turned 24 this March, which makes me wonder if she does all the things that I do. Does she toss and turn at night because she can’t shut her brain off? Does she long for her childhood, when she used to sit on her parents' rug listening to Queen albums, and her greatest worry was what kind of sandwich she would eat for lunch? When she's not touring or recording, does she go home to her parents' Upper West Side apartment and sleep in her old bed? Does she then wake up the next day and eat breakfast with her family around the kitchen table? When she's home, is Stefani Germanotta there? Does she wear cotton pajamas and socks and laugh when her dad tells a joke? In short, is she just like us?

It seems appropriate that I spent part of my 24th birthday inside Radio City Music Hall with Lady Gaga. As I watched her undulate on stage, I asked myself these questions, among others. I had never encountered someone so simultaneously transparent and impossible to read: as she raised her eyebrows and lovingly referred to us, her fans, as her "little monsters," I felt as though she was my best friend in the whole world. I felt like I knew her better than I had ever known anyone. And as she then yelled frenetically at us, demanding that we tell her she's sexy and clap and scream and jump for her, I realized why: I felt that I knew her so well because she has brilliantly filled a niche that no one has filled since Madonna. She has marketed herself as a perfect reflection of a whole generation. If you're lonely, little monsters, just remember that I'll be lonely too. And this is The Fame.

The bass crawled through the room and I felt that I was no different or separate from any other person in the crowd. I wondered as I watched her who she really was, underneath it all. She would tell us she loved us more than anything in the world, and thank us for everything we’ve done for her, and then she would scream at us and taunt us for being nothing more than Fame-crazed* whores who stole her former life from her. She switched so fast between loving and hating us – the people who made her wildest dreams come true – that it was hard to keep track, or to know which sentiment was more sincere. But as a generation who lives in a constant state of Internet-fueled anxiety and confusion because we seem to have too many choices and not enough wisdom to make the right ones, we see that she is our mirror: rough, honest, loving, but (above all) bewildering. We grew up on Tim Burton and Nickelodeon and MTV; give us dark bewilderment, or give us nothing at all.

It’s precisely because she exists as two opposing people simultaneously that Gaga speaks so well to our generation. She is Stefani, the person each of us 20somethings currently is, the nobody walking around the streets of New York, with nothing but a dream and a will; and she is Lady Gaga, the person we all imagine ourselves as inside this dream. Every 20something I know has a Lady Gaga of themselves in their head: whether we want to be writers, artists, singers, actors, or reality TV stars, we all want to be Lady Gaga. We all want other people to worship us for our work. And maybe unlike any generation before us, because our parents told us we can do anything in the world – plus the added element of coming of age in a time when fame is made easy by YouTube, blogging, and a number of other Internet tools – each of us actually believes we can and will become Lady Gaga.

"Hello, little monsters. Do you like my show?" she purrs from beneath a neon-yellow wig and a thick layer of red lipstick, false eyelashes and black eyeliner. "If you don't, I don't care, because you can fucking leave."

The crowd roars in approval. A thousand cameras pop off flashes as Gaga, clad in a skin-tight nude bodysuit fashioned of rhinestones and flashing LED lights, slinks toward the back of the cube-like structure that frames her stage. The stage lights flash white before they drop, and the bass vibrates through our bodies. An image begins to flicker across the three large screens that make up the walls of Gaga's three-pronged world, and supersized digiGaga appears before us in a gorgeous, flowing white frock. We continue to chant and jump as the music climaxes and the image switches to a solid bright white. When Gaga returns to us, she is straddled by a girl with long dark hair, wearing a black unitard and knee-high boots, sticking two fingers down her throat and vomiting blue paint on Gaga's perfect, luminescent dress. Over and over again, she purges through her open mouth while ours gape. I’m sort of like Tinkerbell. You know how Tinkerbell will die if you don’t clap for her? I'll just die without you, my little monsters.

The Monster Ball is genius performance art – along the same lines as Andy Warhol, Patti Smith and David Bowie, it would probably be more appropriately housed in the MOMA than in Radio City – because it's a tool Gaga uses to simultaneously worship her fans, who are both the byproduct and the cause of her sudden rise to fame, and to fight with them. She says, "Fame is killing me," and we believe her. We believe her because we can see it happening. It’s in her face, in her body – which seems to be growing more and more skinny and sinewy - and we can hear it pulsing underneath her scratchy, raw vocal chords. When she says that fame is killing her, she means it both literally and figuratively; it’s literally making her exhausted and ill – Gaga recently confessed that she tested borderline postitive for lupus, the disease that took her aunt’s life – and figuratively it’s slowly killing the person she used to be.

Gaga lies down on the stage and contorts her tiny, lithe body so she is facing us. “Do you think I’m sexy?” she asks us. The crowd’s roar grows to a deafening trill. “I think you’re sexy. When people ask me why I spent all my money on my shows, I just tell them it’s because I have the sexiest fans in the world. But, the question is, do you think I’m sexy?” We scream again. “I don’t believe you!” she screams in return.The reason we scream for her now is because we know that she knows she’s not classically sexy; unlike Britney or BeyoncĂ© before her, Gaga has never pitched the allure of her sexuality as one of her strong artistic qualities. She rarely shows her eyes, often hiding behind dark sunglasses and large hats and sometimes full-coverage masks. She is often nearly-nude, but her nudity never exudes raw, dripping sex like Britney’s did. But it doesn’t matter. In less than two years since her rise to fame, Gaga has sold more than 10 million records and been able to create an entire fan base centered on a singular idea: Don’t be afraid to be yourself.

The reason we little monsters love our Gaga so much is that she is not just a person – she is the never-ending, drug-reminiscent orgasm of my generation. It's like we literally gave birth to her – as if all the young 20somethings in America got together and had a giant orgy, and when we were finished we looked to the middle of the crowd and there was Lady Gaga, laying on the floor, curled up in the fetal position. We have no idea how she got there, but we know she's a part of us, and always will be. We just have to be careful that, like wild primate mothers who prefer to digest their progeny, we don’t eat her right up.


*Uppercase Fame is decidedly different from lowercase fame in Gaga’s world. Uppercase Fame is the ability to proclaim self-worth, which Gaga claims everyone has inside of them, while lowercase fame is the common usage, denoting notoriety or popularity.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

This is the film inside this writer's mind

Irrational fears, part two, six months later.

The city seems strangely quiet today. The cloudcover acts as a mute, making noises at standard level sound somewhat hushed. Today is a blindfold day, Patti.

I don't know what I'm doing. I feel like I'm wasting my time and wasting my life. I don't want to work in an office anymore. I want to write, but I'm not sure what. I don't know how to get where I want to go. I feel things might come to a breaking point soon, but I fear that might just be wishful feeling. I feel like I'm not doing anything good, like I've not done anything good. Like I only think I'm special and different, only think I'm destined for greater things, but really I'm not.

What, after all, separates me from all the other drones in this city, in this world? Aren't we all just ants in a great dream God is dreaming?

I know I must stay positive and think positively. I'm not so good at that.

The ground is rumbling now.
                                                      A large group of people is shouting on the steps of City Hall.
                A small jazz band has started playing.
                                                                                                  The sun is out.
                  The clouds have parted.


Mute is off.