Saturday, February 26, 2011

88 days/89 nights

I had this awful dream last night, or this morning, that you told me you didn't love me, you loved someone else. You were my lover and my trainer; you were training me to be a gymnast. You were trying to get me to do a release move, something very high in the air, and I was just swinging so high in the air above water, and I couldn't let go. You got angry. I told you I was too scared, it was too high, I couldn't let go. You disappeared into the bowels of the ship and when you came back you said so many mean things to me, that I was weak and you had never loved me and what we had together was fleeting and meaningless. You said that you had found a woman who was brave and real to love. She was there too, and though I don't remember what she looked like, I remember her cruelty. It felt like when I was a child and people used to make fun of me for being a little bit chubby, or wearing pants that didn't flare quite enough at the ankles, or having bangs that stairstepped down my little forehead.

I wake up crying and the sun hits my face and I slowly realize it was only a dream. I think of my high school philosophy teacher, who said dreams were more a reality than our waking hours. Dreams, like all the times I built you in my bed, bringing a pillow close to my face and remembering when your blue eyes glowed back at me as we fucked. I try my hardest to remember, to re-create their explosive sheen from so, so long ago; I graze my lips across the surface of the pillow and remember how you kissed me, the breath that lingered between our mouths. I think that’s when it happened, when we exchanged those pieces of ourselves, whatever this thing is that makes me invent you time and time again, that haunts and thrills me. My gymnastics coach once took my 10-year-old pointed foot in his hand and looked at me and told me I would be in the Olympics some day. He was wrong; I never made it to the Olympics. Instead I got real sick and spent a summer in the hospital and missed a vacation with roller coasters and, much later,  thanked God for keeping me alive.

I close my eyes and pull the pillow even tighter to me. I don't mourn the back handsprings or cartwheel beams or my Olympic dreams, but I do still thank God for life. I have no reason to love you, except that I have every reason not to, and of all the dreams I've had of you, this was but one. The open road reveals itself to me, and I drive on.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

2011: Gagalations

After I noticed some striking (read: obvious) similarities between Gaga's Grammy performance and Alvin Ailey's modern ballet Revelations, the lovely ladies over at Gaga Stigmata agreed to let me write a piece for them comparing the two works and their meanings in the contexts of their debuts. You can check it out here. I worked a lot on it and am really excited to share it!

I also recently interviewed legendary hairstylist Vidal Sassoon. There's a documentary about his life out right now in NYC and L.A., and I saw a screener. It's so amazing, and he is an inspiration for anyone who has ever wanted to make art or do anything completely different and revolutionary. He also once cut Grace Coddington's hair - and we all know she is the only remaining badass at American Vogue  - so that, added to the fact that in a period of 15 minutes he legitimately referenced Bauhaus, Camus and Sartre, confirms him as a visionary and, possibly, my soulmate.

I leave for a week-long tryst in Spain in about two weeks! If anyone has any advice about what to do in BARTHELONA, let me know. xoxo

Monday, February 21, 2011

enter the void

Dear Kanye: Thanks for taking my favorite song on the album and making a video that directly copies a really bizarre art film about being in love with your sister in Tokyo.

I mean damn, you could have at least cited Gaspar NoƩ. Extra bright, indeed.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Born This Way: It's for 2011, not 1990

My review of Gaga's single Born This Way, which dropped this morning around 5 a.m. (yes, I did set an alarm and arise), is up on Sound System NYC. I want to post it below in full as well, but be sure to check it out over on the actual site! xo

“Born This Way” was not love at first listen for me: I found the opening lines banal and drab, the melody weak and the song as a whole monotonous and sort of, well, boring. Compared with “Bad Romance,” the debut single off her second album The Fame Monster, with its epic climbs and falls, its oh-u-oh-u-ohs, its screeching profession of love, “BTW” seemed lackluster. But I listened to it again, trying not to make it into something it’s not – that’s right, it’s about to get real meta in here – and I liked it more.

I played it again and liked it a bit more. I played it again and liked it even more. By the fifth listen I was dancing in my bed – where I was sitting after waking up at 5 a.m. to hear the song – and picturing a sunny, warm New York afternoon, walking around the city in shades and jamming out to this track. It reminded me of her summery tracks circa The Fame, with the same upbeat lyrics and happy-go-lucky “I love life” attitude.

In fairness, the track wasn’t particularly surprising. Lady Gaga has been saying for months that it would be the gay anthem of our generation (even Elton John vouched for this), and she’s been saying since the beginning of her time in the spotlight that the key to a happy life is loving yourself and having self-confidence. With the release of the lyrics via her Twitter account – a bizarre move that made me wonder why an artist would want to release a piece of work chunk by chunk – we got the message loud and clear.

It’s a gay anthem all right, in the most in-your-face way possible. With the release of the song in its full form –with melodies, bass and tempo – the literal nature of the lyrics made more sense. It seems the whole Internet is up in arms because, they argue, the song sounds identical to Madonna’s 1989 freedom anthem “Express Yourself,” but aside from a similar melody and chord changes (newsflash: all pop and rock music operates on about four chord progressions) I don’t think it’s identical at all. In fact, I saw more similarities to Madonna’s anthem from the following year, the epic “Vogue” – which, if we’re being honest, also sounds a lot like “Express Yourself.”

“Vogue” was a gay anthem for the 1990s, taking its inspiration from the underground New York gay clubs chronicled in Paris is Burning, where voguing was a dance form and a lifestyle. BTW’s lyrics mirror those in “Vogue” much more directly than anything in “Express Yourself”: “All you need is your own imagination/So use it, that’s what it’s for/Go inside for your finest inspiration/ Your dreams will open the door; It makes no difference if you’re black or white/If you’re a boy or a girl/If the music’s pumping it will give you new life/You’re a superstar, yes, that’s what you are, you know it” mirrors Lady Gaga’s verse: “No matter gay, straight, or bi/Lesbian transgendered life/I’m on the right track baby/I was born to survive; No matter black, white or beige/Chola or Orient made/I’m on the right track baby/I was born to be brave.”

“Vogue” and “BTW” are the same – they have the “same DNA,” if you will – in that both Madonna and Gaga aimed to produce pop songs that would speak to the masses while representing a culture they wished to pay homage to. The difference is this: in 1990, Madonna had to be subversive in her lyrics, because homosexuality was more of a fringe-society experience than it is now; in 2011, Gaga doesn’t have to, so she simply doesn’t. Perhaps the literalism of her lyrics is just her attempt to capture the zeitgeist for a generation not prone to holding much back re: expressing ourselves. We curse, we talk dirty, we promote weirdness and, yes, we love the gays. Gaga has said she wrote the song in just 10 minutes, which has pros and cons. But maybe if she really aimed to write the anthem of her and our generation, all she had to do was sit down and let the words flow. It seems that’s what she did – how successfully she’s done it will be determined over the course of the next 20 years. For now, beauty’s where you find it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Patti Smith at St. Mark's Church

Last night I had the most incredible Patti experience thus far, the amazing opportunity to see her read poetry with Lenny Kaye on the 40th anniversary of their very first performance in the same church where it all started. I wrote a review of it for Sound System NYC, and took some shoddy video on my iPhone. This woman is truly inspiring in every way: universally talented, rousing, kind, warm, gentle, humble. She is everything I aim to be in my life. She is a true artist.

I've seen Patti three times over the past year, but this time was different because I had never seen her read poetry before. I recorded her reading "Ballad of a Bad Boy," a poem she wrote about Sam Shepard and his car, over the grisly hum of Lenny Kaye's electric guitar. It was the definition of badass. Turn your volume way up.

monday at midnight
tuesday at two
drunk on tequila
thinkin' of you ma
I drove my car on ma
wreckin' cars was my art