Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Incredible Shrinking Woman

A little something about the Body Politic.

Throughout most of my adolescent and twenty-something life, I was a strict size 8, once I acheived the height of 5' 9 3/4". I would probably stand at an even 5'10, were it not for the thirty-plus pounds of texts books I carried on my left shoulder for the entire eight years I was in high school and college, while my bones were still soft and forming. Really, there should be rules that prevent dumbass kids who are trying to look cool from giving themselves scoliosis. But I digress.

There was a somewhat unfortunate period in college when I gained ten pounds and moved up to a size 10, but those pounds sloughed right off me every time I went home for Christmas or Summer break. Blame it on the refectory and late night visits to the Silver Truck for egg and bacon grinders.

But something happened in my late twenties, and suddenly I was wearing a size six, though I observed no measurable weight change. I bring this up, because yesterday I bought a dress at The Gap, and was shocked to find that the only suitable size was a FOUR. This happened once before with a pair of their corduroys, which I always assumed was a mislabelling fluke. I've practically got shoulders like a linebacker (shirts and jackets are usually a 12 to accomodate the span, not to mention my monkey arms), so if my hips were fours, I would look utterly ridiculous. But the dress? Well, the sizing was such that I nearly tried on a 2.

What the hell is going on? I am very lean right now, from all the yoga and physical work I regularly do, but the scale puts me at only a couple of pounds fewer than my stable weight of 142. And by the way, that number shocks many people, as they think I seem much "thinner" than my measurable weight suggests. Let me tell you something: stop reading fashion magazines. 1) they must lie a fair amount of the time about the "statistics." 2) those women are unnaturally skinny, and I've been around enough of them to know that most of them are bird-boned and are headed straight for the osteoporosis clinic soon as they hit menarche. 3) the camera does add ten pounds, hence #2. 4) who gives a shit?

Why am I even bothering to tell you this? Because I think the fashion industry is messing with our self perception in more than just the obvious ways. I think they are downsizing sizes, as it were, so that women can feel "better" about the garment they are purchasing. That's what I think, and I think it's sick.

When did we decide that less was so much more? When did the abundant and fertile flesh of a woman (and believe me, I am not that body type), was unattractive, undesirable, lamentable, inappropriate, immoral even? If Marilyn Monroe tried to enter Hollywood or a modeling agency in this day and age, she would be sent directly to Jenny Craig. And really, my choice of photo above is maybe a poor one, because it's about the thinnest image I've ever seen of her.

Where will it end? Is the next stop zero? Will there one day be a cipher on the tag for my garments? Think about what that says symbolically. If I am a good and desirable woman, I am nothing. If I am nothing, if I am zero, I am good and desirable.

But the truth is that none of you really fall in love with that.

I have long been afraid that the consequence of the beauty standard is less love in the world. We limit the breadth and scope of erotic and romantic potential every time we insist upon any standard. Apparently I am a bit right about this - the most recent Post Secret included this doleful submission:

"I dumped you because my friends made fun of me for dating a fat girl. But I am still in Love with you."

What is more tragic than that?

There is something different for everyone, and that's the beauty of it. That's why there is someone for everyone. No body is really perfect, no body is really ugly. I wish everyone would just stop it already.

The Book of Mathew

part I (i wrote this a few months ago, but felt the tone a little false - i think it's because i wasn't there for a lot of what i'm trying to describe. tonight i tried to write some more, part 2):

I once quipped to a loyal reader that I had once been "engaged to crazy." This prompted a demand for explanation. Of course I said it somewhat tongue in cheek, but there is no doubt that the man I almost married had some pretty serious emotional problems. I loved him anyway, and to an extent that almost scares me. I haven't quite felt the same about anyone since, though I've no doubt the capacity is there. The next time will, ultimately, be better. It has to be.

Mathew was the baby of three boys, each born in the 50s, sons of a Jewish stockbroker who had served in the Italian Alpini during WWII as part of the 10th Mt. Division. Similarly, his ethnically Irish mother was an ace skier, Olympic grade, in fact, and the couple trained hopefuls for competition. Mother was afflicted in the manner so common to her people, a dreadful alcoholic, whom the boys were terrified to waken in the early morning when she would invariably be nursing a hangover, if she was even up, which was never. Their father was out the front door before daybreak, as he had to reach his downtown office before the New York Stock Exchange opened, so the boys were left to fend for themselves on the schoolday mornings.

For some period of time, they lived in Lake Tahoe, presumably for the access to the slopes of Squaw Valley. The family dog was a highly intelligent Weimeraner named Maggie, who often played nanny to young Mathew. In summertime, he was left out in the yard with the dog, often without so much as a diaper. He claims that at three he was often left on the lake shore to play with Maggie, who would drag him up the beach by his wrist or shirt sleeve each time he too nearly approached the water's edge. At night, he nursed the tips of her silvery ears as he fell into sleep.

part 2 (after repeat urging from Huck. it's full of impossibly long sentences to dizzy you):

One could write an entire novel about his life - How his two elder brothers left him for dead (they were sure he was) under a rhododendron bush on the Reed College campus when he was maybe eight, after clocking him in the head with a baseball, and how he "magically" appeared back at the house in time to sit at the dinner table, utterly concussed, but said nothing until his mother asked him what the matter was, and he said he didn't feel so good, so she sent him off to bed. to sleep. Which is the last thing you let someone with a head injury do, as I understand it.

How he went to work in the summer on a ranch in Montana when he was fifteen, and was a gymnast and an ace fly fisherman, and had a pet pig who would come sit beside him on the dock and to whom he would throw the fingerlings he caught, for a little piggy snack. How back in Portland he was an honor roll student, and yet still the high school drug dealer. How the film studies teacher would lend him and his buddy her car to go pick up reels for class at the PNW Film and Video Center, across town, and totally believed them when they said it had to take two hours (if you knew Portland, you'd know why that's entirely ludicrous), when of course they were making a trip to the big dealer's house. And how once he left a pound of pot under his chair in algebra class, and had to march back in there in the middle of the next period to retrieve it. This was, of course, the later part of the first half of the 70s. How his best friend's beautiful mother tried to seduce him as a sophomore and nearly or did succeed, I forget which, and how riddled with shame he was when he saw Jack again, but it wasn't the first time she'd done a thing like that.

How he was in the merchant marines, and helped deliver goods to 'eskimo' villages so they wouldn't starve to death in the winter, and yet the (and I have no idea how to spell this, though I tried to look it up) athura baskan people would shoot at them, and how the girls in the villages would beg them to take them aboard and far far away. Anywhere but here. How he almost died on one of those Alaskan boats, as it was sinking and the power died, so the sump pump wasn't working, so he went below to fix the power as the water was rising up to his chest, and just in the nick of time, because that's how those sorts of stories always go... And the mad crewman who jumped onto the back of a grizzly bear as they trolled up some river. While in Alaska he also worked as a lumberjack, and told me how they ate salmon fat to stay warm, how you could literally feel the heat moving out of your stomach and through your body. And how on the very coldest nights of the very coldest days you could hear the sound of a far distant neighbor turning the key in his front door, because when it gets that cold, the world is very quiet and sound travels very far. Then there are the Pedro stories, his beloved lab who once dragged the hind leg of a moose all the way back to the home he kept with his first wife, Marga, and how Mathew was rather concerned about just which hunters the fool dog might have stolen that haunch from. Or the fish bin in town, where all the refused parts rotted, and the dog's great penchant for taking an occasional roll in all that stench, because anyone who has ever loved a dog knows about their love of stink. And the time he and a neighbor were digging a trench and found an enormous cache of butter in the back yard that had well preserved because the ground was so cool, even in summer, and how clearly the neighbor's dog had been storing it there, at which time they realized that's why the sweet creamy stuff had always seemed to be disappearing. And how it's a very smart animal indeed that saves fat. And how the cat he and Marga kept littered, and Pedro groomed and loved them, and was often seen walking about with his drooly jowls and lips delicately draped around the sodden kitten, whose little head was all that peeked out of it's canine transport and protector. And how carefully he would spit out the matted little beast when chided. But it never stopped him from doing it all over again. And how someone once broke into Mat's truck and Pedro must have been rather friendly about it, because they not only took the stereo, but also the jacket the dog was sleeping on. And how he also built log homes with his friend and partner Marcus, the German, and they would later (after Marga broke his heart and made him jealous and crazy enough to become violent and nearly kill himself, because she fell for his very short best friend whom he thereafter referred to as "the troll"), take their business to his homeland and into France, and there he stayed in a haunted inn, and there was a vampire lady they worked for, who lived back in the woods, who they never saw during the day, and Mat was sure she was about three-hundred years old.

And the return to Portland, where he slept around a lot and drank alot, and left a tavern so blind once that he drove his big truck up and over a Porsche, but went on without a care. And after his second marriage failed, the one where he married that artistic society girl who pretended to be sick with rheumatoid arthritis to the point that she had to stay home from work, and all the while she was really meeting her lover in the afternoon. And finally she just left. And after that he fell apart again, and hung out with Garrett, who had left Wesleyan short of graduating and become a founding member of Dinosaur, Jr back in Boston, instead. The two routinely went to "chick night" at a Portland music club to which you got in free on one weekday if you were female or just dressed like one. An icy evening after, they came home so sauced that Mathew tripped on his skirt hem and passed out on the frozen stairs where he fell. Garrett got him safely back into the house, then proceeded to give his unconscious friend a smiley face tattoo on his leg. Once, they were thrown out of the Halloween party at a local bowling alley, because the manager didn't like it when Garrett, dressed as Baby Jane Hudson, dumped Mathew, as sister Blanche, out of the prop wheelchair and onto the carpet. When he wasn't working too hard or partying too hard, he was tearing up his body and the soccer field. I don't know if there is a part of his person he has not broken, cut or otherwise damaged. He had the great respect of his multinational teammates, one of whom was known as "Victor the Peruvian Daddy," and who offered to assasinate Mathew's second wife upon hearing of her infidelity. For free. Mathew quickly relieved Victor of any such notion or responsibility. Somehow, he was perversely touched by the perverse gesture.

So, it goes on and on. There are so many more stories, and I haven't even gotten to us or much of the "crazy" I saw, which is hardly the most interesting part, and so I won't for tonight.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Fungus Among Us

Remember that ad about the heartbreak of toenail fungus? Well imagine this.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

There is no separation

is the arcane truth
orphans must wrap round
their naked selves
a tattered blanket they nursed the corners off
the big lumbering dog
a spot of sun below the window
all the warming things

when you are a bit rested
stand at the base of a great tree
or a telephone pole
beneath the shaft of a flag, if you like
some line rooting in the ground as
an earthen umbillicus
and remember -
everyday is your birthday
she will feed you milk and cake
your ancestors will come to celebrate;
they are here beside you.

(photo by David Alan Harvey Oaxaca, 1992)

Happy Birthday!

Hope your new year is full of whatever makes you happiest.

I seem to recall you like hockey

and redheads

and brews.

Go make you some merry, Huckleberry.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Let's Talk Turkey

Some good person in Trk, Burdur, Turkey arrived at my site this afternoon via a Google search for "conjugation porn."

I have two thoughts (simple bicameral minded sort that I am) -

1) They meant "conjugal," in which case I must ask, "What porn is not?"

2) The Turks really get off on wordplay generally, in which case I say, "Hear, Hear!" Try naked Scrabble. Listen to Will Shortz get all wobbly-excited over his sometime female on-air cohort as they go over the crossword puzzles. It's pure unadulterated hotness. Speak to me in anagrams, palindromes, spoonerisms, malaprop, or just wow me with your sesquipedalian tendencies. I'm sure that's shunned in Leviticus and the Koran.

I must go sit down awhile; I'm overwrought.

Thank You, Nic Harcourt!

Now, for some good news!!

The band I manage had a song, Isolation Booth, played on Morning Becomes Eclectic this a.m. at 10:11!! This, a mere week and a half after I sent every dj at that station a press kit and CD. We had no idea until friends started emailing and phoning. In case you are unaware of KCRW, it is an NPR and PRI affiliate, and a major radio station in Los Angeles. Mr. Harcourt is a very influential dj, on a national level, so this is a big deal for us. Folks listen to him on the island of Manhattan, as well.

The show is archived for 24 hours. I will be digging in there, as I did not hear it and have no idea what he said about the band or track.

Post Secret

This is far more alarming than anything that happened last week, sad as the loss might be. Let us remember the habeas corpus and keep it holy.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Please, someone explain to me why this exists?

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Aftermath

Last night was a treat. Some of the bands were great, some worse than mediocre, but most all had some really fresh interpretation of some strange old material.

The Good Listeners played beautifully, but as Clark said before they even took the stage, "The sound guy's fired." It was true - a terrible buzzing hum coming out of the left speaker overhead. We had a new drummer, Derek, must recently working with The Eels. As it turns out, he's another Portland transplant.

Here's a review from the blogosphere, and I'm so impressed with this blog, I've already added it to my sidebar. Gazpachot is very interesting read, and extremely intelligent writ.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Syd Barrett Tribute

"My" band is playing this song

Thursday night at Bordello (the oldest bar and historical brothel in downtown Los Angeles), as part of a tribute to the late, great singer-songwriter and founding member of Pink Floyd, pre-David Gilmour, for whom they wrote "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," after he dropped too much acid, developed schizophrenia, and disappeared from view.

Here he sings "Jugband Blues." I think my favorite line is, "..and I wonder who could be writing this song." One of thee, oh sweet voices in Syd's bonny head?

Then he has to go makin' fun of Dylan. O the temerity! Evidently, he wrote this as a teenager, and was later encouraged by David Gilmour to record it.

He sure was purty, that is, before he went nuts and shaved off his eyebrows. Come see us at the show. My boys are on at 10:50pm.

I would like to say this

Just a little bit of something about you gentlemen who rush to aid and pursue the damsels in distress. You are needed, even by those of us who appear strong and separate. We need you like you need us (and you do need us), though we might well make our way without you. The only thing about those fairy tales, dear sweet Princes Charming, the thing you all so often forget, is this: in the myths, in the Brothers Grimm, in the content of our dreams, and all the stories in between, the Princesses are worthy lasses. They aren't chipped-shouldered, damaged girls trying to swirl your life into chaos, who 'have no pity'. Well, I'm probably wrong - I'm sure they need you, too. But I am making a plea for the others, the soft, strong, long-suffering, patient ones who try their very best to love and do the right thing, even when they are locked up, beaten down and humiliated. They even try to fight the good fight all on their own.

So when you venture forth in your feats of gallantry, and I sincerely wish more of you would try, make sure the girl you're rescuing is one who is trying (and I sincerely wish more of us would try) too. Not just one who is trying you.

(painting by John William Waterhouse, La Belle Dame Sans Merci. Careful... is she the one? Do you know the poem by Keats of the same title?)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Rudy Bunny

I don't think it's nice to make fun of the appearance of others, and I take no joy in it, but occasionally I feel the need to point out issues of image. It's not a question of the valuation of beauty, so much as the fundamental question, "what the hell were they thinking?"

Clearly, people like this, people who need p.r. people, and no doubt hire them, are perfectly aware that a picture's worth a thousand words. Words that will be scrutinized, parsed, and interpreted.

Because, I say, slap two ears on this guy, and hippity-hoppity, Easter's on its way.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mimi Smartypants

This is why I read her and you must read her, too:

...Man am I crabby. It makes me not want to write. When I am in a mood like this, my writing self does an eerie split-personality routine. With each paragraph I set the table, forks and knives and flowers and cloth napkins, glass of wine? Sure I'd love one. Oh won't this be nice. Let's eat! And then the other part of my head, the Drunk Dad from all those Irish Novels Of Great Domestic Misery, comes home with big boots tracking mud everywhere, and he is set off by some little nothing and the table's knocked over, the dishes are broken, the spaghetti is sliding down the wall, and then he's passed out on the couch while the rest of my psyche twists the dishtowel and says oh dear oh dear. Don't forget the kid part of my brain, headphones clamped on ears and nihilistic rap turned way up, thinking why even bother. And don't forget the narrator, third-person and entirely-too-omniscient, sitting back and saying ooooh you are so fucking clever with your little analogies.

...It does not help that everyone around me has been faithfully drinking their bitchjuice. Yesterday I was emailed a question and when I answered the question, five minutes later, the asker responded, "Thanks for repeating, I knew that already." I am sitting here looking at a timestamped email in which you did not "know that already," but how great that you can just configure reality to suit your needs. God. See I told you Drunk Dad would show up.

...the person's email was horrible too, full of "you really should" and "for future reference." Has anything good ever started with the words "for future reference"? Has anyone ever said, "For future reference, I will service you orally whenever you ask?" Or, "For future reference, please help yourself to this large pile of money?" No. "For future reference" is always followed by something shitty.

And then there's her daughter, Nora:

What currently knocks 'em dead on the preschool Comedy Hour is to add body parts to common nouns. Get in the car? Get in the EAR CAR! Ha ha ha ha ha! Get it? No? I guess you're not four years old.

Nora: When I grow up I'm going to make candy in a factory.
Me: Awesome. What kind of candy?
Nora [on the edge of cracking herself up]: KNEE CANDY! No wait, hair candy! [convulsive laughter] No, no, no, no, nose candy. I will make nose candy! Everyone will love my nose candy!
Me: People sure do love nose candy.
Nora: Yeah! They will say, "Do you have any more of that nose candy?" And I'll say, "Yes I do! Come on over!"
Me: You should probably have a cell phone, because sometimes people have some nose candy, and then they go out dancing, and then they want some more nose candy at like four in the morning.
Nora: What?
Me: Nothing.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Band on the Run

Been a little busy with this new job, but hope to write soon. If things keep going like this, I'm probably going to have to give up and get a cell phone after making it five and a half years in LA without one. Some call that impossible, which always makes me laugh, as they are the ones who, despite having three or four numbers, I can never reach.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

All Your Eggs in One Basket

It was long, full of great graphics, and chock full of world mythology, and Safari crashed and ate it. Easter massacre, really. I spent about three hours on it, and I don't have time to resurrect it right now. Sorry, folks. No one's more bummed about it than I.

If I get a chance, I'll try to rebuild it (and whatever happened to the salvage function that used to be on this site???), but until such a miracle, here are some PEEEEEPS!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Band Aid

I have a great new job, that came my way randomly at a Sunday brunch party at the end of my street two weekends ago. This, because I was acting like a jackass, which might just be about the best way I can think of to secure employment. Clark and Nathan were huddled up together away from the rest of the party for quite some time, and I, being the sort that dislikes such cliquish and exclusive behavior, went over to see what was up. Break it up. Whatever.

Upon approaching the duo, I heard Clark say, "I want to set aside $$$ per month to get certain things done."

I began jumping up and down like a four-year-old in footie-pajamas who just mainlined the sugar bowl, "I like money! I like money! What do I have to do?"

Clark looked at me with his usual flat-affect and deadpan manner. Was it disgust? Was it confusion? You can never tell with him, but the wheels are always turning...

"Actually, that might just work."

He offered me the job of managing them. I think I blanched, which is hard to picture, given my naturally ghastly pallor, then said, "Um, I don't know anything about that."

No matter. He said I would figure it out. Furthermore, I believe in them, which was more important to him, anyway. "We need someone to do things like find us cool venues and events."

"But I'm not cool." I protested.

To no avail.

So then it was done, in like two minutes, and ultimately, I didn't even have to think about it.

Remember that scene in Election, after Reese Witherspoon wins, and she's shrieking, fists clenched up in the air, and jumping around? Like the four-year-old? That would be me. This is not a job I had envisioned for myself, and yet it fits so marvelously, for so many reasons. I love music so much, and being around this world really will be good for me. These guys are great musically and, plain and simple, are just really good human beings.

They have a song on The Devil Wears Prada soundtrack, they just played at Sundance, and are poised to score a film, but they don't have a label yet. The music is very heavily Beatles and psychedelia inspired, much like some of Beck's work. But you will hear some Neil Young, some Radiohead, some Schroeder on the piano (in "Light from Sound"), some I don't know what, and if I were French I'd say the same, but in French - a pretentious and empty phrase, like, Je ne sais quoi.

And there's that little rascal, Stewart, keyboardist, snake charmer, ladykiller, with his additionally insane skills on the horn. Listen to him here. When I heard him play last week at Largo, I was quite astonished; I didn't know the trumpet could make those sounds. Guy's like a trip-hop Satchmo. It doesn't really come across the same on the recording, but then it never does. By the way, he plays tonight and tomorrow with Nikka Costa at Largo, if you're keen.

"My" band will be playing as part of a Syd Barrett tribute at Bordello on April 19th. If you like them, you can purchase both "Ojai" and "Crane Point Lodge" on CD Baby, or iTunes.

Cryogenically Frozen Out*

Apparently Disney is none too pleased with Keith Richard's recent confession, and has taken him off the upcoming Pirates promotional roster. Understandably, inhaling illicit drugs and the crumbling remains of one's ancestor is perhaps not the sort of behavior one wants to model for the wee ones, but I take exception on several counts -

1) He was Keith Richards before, and Keith Richards he will be. Were the decades of notorious rock and roll legend, unknown to Disney before he snorted the mortal? I think not.

2) Jack Sparrow is an outlandish rogue, and I've no doubt his father's character, played by Richards, will prove the adage, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." So on the one hand they are celebrating the antic disposition, on the other, they'd like to conceal it. How consistently inconsistently Disney of them.

3) Speaking of inhalations, a survey of big studio movies was done in 2002 to determine which put out the most films showing its actors smoking cigarettes. You know, because of the 'message' and modeling nicotine-delivers to the population, namely kids. "Two-third of Disney’s youth-rated movies show tobacco use," as well as 92% of R rated movies, in the period of 1999-2006. Oh, the overly chipper mouse (and I thought maybe he just had a problem with caffeine). Of course, Walt died of lung cancer.

4) Old Walt attended Nazi party meetings before WWII. The extent of his involvement is debated, the use of anti-semitic representation is really not, and neither controversy will you find on Wikipedia's squeaky clean account of his life and death. I have no doubt that legal over at the mouse empire has kept them in check, an assumption that anyone with one eye open in Hollywood could tell you is entirely likely. (Oh, is that my telephone ringing...) This point really does nothing to refute their position with Richards, but in the spirit of reductio ad Hitlerum, I thought I'd shout "Fascist." 'Cause it's fun to play association fallacy with the Hitler card.

5) Disney has a long history of myth making in the realms of the macabre, a fact for which the filmmakers have been repeatedly criticised. Poison apples, terrifyingly dark and vengeful female figures, Bambi's mother scorched in a forest fire (did he perform a similar ritual of homage after the embers cooled?), Snow White lying in state (not to metion whatever she was up to with all those dwarves, and if the stereotype about them is true... one foot on the floor lads, one foot on the floor.), attempted puppy massacre, the list goes on. Personally, though I did think those movies were a little overly frightening as a child, I don't think Walt took us anywhere the Grimm Brothers hadn't. Myths, especially European ones, are replete with violence and unsavory humanness. Not necessarily a justification, but inclusion of vice in the public dialogue might just be a necessary part of the 'sorting out' our individual and collective Psyche goes through.

So why not treat Richards as a cautionary tale? Tell your kids not to do drugs. Better yet, make sure you are behaving in kind. Better still, point out the wasting in his face and say, 'Children, is this how you want to look at sixty?" But let's not keep sweeping the ashes under the rug. Put them up yer schnozzles, where they belong!

(*Rumours of Walt's posthumous freezing are, apparently, just that, but whatever serves the blog, the blog serves to you. Never take my word for it, or at least assume that I might be kidding. I never intentionally put forth untruths, but my tongue could be stuck to the inside of my cheek.)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

More Morbidity

This from the ranks of what my friend Trace calls, "Persistently Undead Rockstars."

‘I couldn’t resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow,’ Keith Richards said of his father's ashes."

Naturally, one would then turn the sinus cavities into a mausoleum in tribute.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

new stars arrive

not really knowing
what human love is for.
delirious and wide-eyed,
tripping over themselves
to amuse you

the little baubles
silver-eyed paillettes,
a fantastic satin glance -
all these things that shine
bright, innocent

they fall to earth
so hard so fast.

(photo by Jim Goldberg, 2000)

Monday, April 02, 2007