Friday, June 27, 2008
I can't believe it took me this long to figure out that the early morning visits (in the 5:00 and 6:00 hours of the AM, as well as on weekends) were most likely coming from a Blackberry. Now I can go back to living my life knowing full well that there is nothing mysterious at all about the Internet.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
I’m surprised the Pitchfork review of the Exile in Guyville reissue wasn’t more offensive; I’m glad they gave it a high rating (a 9.6; I still think it should be a 10, but I guess their biggest problem was the reissue didn’t offer more extras, so fine). But, as always, I have an issue with the way Pitchfork publishes its “reviews.”
My big issue is the first three paragraphs:
You break all kinds of unwritten rules when you’re a guy who admires a girl. The white suburban kids who idolize gangster rappers are old news, and the rich kids have always loved to rub elbows with the poor. But when a man tries to identify with a woman, he doesn’t just hit the normal problems of “white male gaze” and “exploitation of the other” and “being a jackass”: There’s also the third rail of male sexuality, where identifying too closely with a woman might make you seem, perish the thought, sensitive. So instead, the guys who dig a girl like Liz Phair have to play up the attraction, the lust, the submission to a rock’n’roll goddess— even when, for many of them, the lust ain’t the main draw.
The other tactic is to take credit for what she’s done. And guys can take plenty of credit for Phair’s early career. Rock critics like Bill Wyman brought Phair to Chicago’s attention when they ranted and raved about Guyville weeks before the thing came out. The Rolling Stones recorded Exile on Main Street, the loose template for Guyville’s 18 tracks— and one of the blues-rock genomes that saved this from being just another singer-songwriter set. And a couple other guys, co-producer Brad Wood and engineer Casey Rice, helped nail the minimalist production of Guyville and its follow-up, the underrated Whip-Smart.
It was the guys like her Johnny or her Joe— the titular guys in the indie boy’s club centered in and around Chicago’s Wicker Park— who preened for her, dicked her over, and taught her how to push back, inspiring her and making it necessary for her to write these songs in the first place. And it was guys who took the piss when she started headlining at venues that were too big for an amateur. Playing a New Year’s Eve show at the Metro as your sixth or seventh gig is a lot to bite off. And if I recall correctly, she bit. But stagecraft and starpower weren’t the point: Those of us who were taken in by Phair loved her because she was— sorry to use the word— real.
I’ve bitched before about Pitchfork’s reviews; I generally just look at the rating instead of reading the actual article because, as in the case of Exile, it isn’t so much about the music as it is about the author writing the review. So here we have this guy who, ironically, is one of the targets of Liz Phair’s album. And he spends the first third of the review talking about how hard it is for him to like the album because he’s a guy?
I think that’s silly, and I could write a whole other essay on the subject of this stupid societal construct of masculinity and blah, blah, blah. I think the point I’m trying to make is that the album is good because it is good, not because it makes you know how it feels to be a girl. Hell, I relate to this album and I don’t think it’s solely about dating guys.
Sure, the “woman thing” has certainly been an issue in how Liz Phair has been received as an artist (I truly believe that is why she is such an outsider in the music industry, because no one knew how to manage her music), but I don’t think all of her music has to come down to that black and white issue. Most of the time, Liz Phair writes and sings in character, not as herself, and in several instances those characters have been men
Naturally as a guy, I can’t speak for what women saw in the record back then, or how young women will take it now. But of all the albums written from a woman’s perspective, this is one of the most accessible to men. It’s intriguing to watch her deal with us— not as a mere revolutionary, but as someone who knows that sex will always be tough, so she always has to be tougher. She’s been tested in ways we never will be, and we understand just enough to admire her for it. Men don’t get what it’s like to be a woman. But spinning this record, you swear that you could.
“Men don’t get what it’s like to be a woman.” You know what? If you put forth a little effort (which doesn’t mean just listen to an 18-song album), you could probably figure it out sometime.
Friday, June 20, 2008
My pre-adolescent fascination with Mommie Dearest
and Valley of the Dolls.
On the other hand, the reason why the jury is still out on this case:
My general ambivalence toward Grey Gardens.
(PS. It is really difficult to find a video of Mommie Dearest on YouTube that does not feature drag queens.)
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
tumblr. - The Documentary from DaveAOK on Vimeo.
Also, Real David Karp is not as hot as Fake David Karp.
I'm in a general malaise right now. (I hate writing about it on my blog, but bear with me.) I don't think it's one thing that's making me feel like things are such shit, but rather the last four months of hell that have been home life and work life. After I broke up with John I finally made myself go into therapy, thinking that the break-up (and my general failures with dating in general) were a major part of what's bringing me down. I mean, I think that lately, most of my rage and anger comes out of romantic disappointment; why else would I still want to scratch someone's fucking eyes out every time I see them (yes, them, because it's plural)?
With my dad's illness and death, one would think that I spend most of my therapy talking about grief, etc. The truth is, I've spent more hours talking about my job that anything else. I'm not going to go into great detail because that's uncouth and such, but something must be said for spending eight hours a day feeling ten times more miserable than you do anywhere else, and on top of that feeling like you're an idiot at the same time. I told John today that I was in the mood to go cry a bathroom stall somewhere, and he replied, "You could work at the New York Times building where they have 'crying cubbies!'" But even before I could respond, he said, "But then it's expected that you would be crying."
I don't even know if therapy (or, as I call it, "my five-hundred-dollar deductible") is doing me any good, but I continue to go because it's worth a shot, right? Of course, here's the shitty thing: I have to work because I need the insurance, since therapy isn't affordable without it (especially since it's just now covering it). So basically, I need to work for the therapy, and I need the therapy to make it to work. Such is the irony of the twenty-something, depressive, professional lifestyle.
I don't think exclusively listening to Exile in Guyville is conducive to a good mood either, but I'm too excited for next week to examine that.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Anyway, I get jealous of people like Justin and Katy who seem to be going to weddings all the time. But then I realize that they went to a Catholic college, so they are obviously more likely to know people who get married at our age. My friends are all heathens who live in sin, if they even manage to keep a relationship going that long. (Seriously, friends! Get it together! There are ice cream makers and flatware in your future!)
Adam and Alissa are getting married in August, and it will honestly be the first fun wedding I will ever attend, since I'll be of legal age and my family won't be there. I don't have to worry about embarrassing myself in front of my mom - Adam and Alissa will have to hope I don't embarrass them in front of their moms!
Ever since they started planning the wedding, I tried to give them ideas on how to make it totally kick-ass, from a themed wedding (Cowboys and Indians! Pimps and 'hos!) to recreating the opening to the musical in The Muppets Take Manhattan. This is for my own entertainment, because it's not like I'm going to enjoy the food or anything.
I was talking to my friend Laurie today (happy birthday, by the way!), and she was telling me that she and her boyfriend have started thinking about a wedding next year. Immediately I said, "Oh my God, PLEASE HAVE IT IN COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG!!!" Not because either of us like Colonial Williamsburg - in fact, we both kind of despise it. I realized then that maybe because I'm not allowed to get married (and, let's face it, even if I was, who would I fool into entering into a legal contract with me?), I act out my aggressions by trying to imagine my friends' weddings turn into train wrecks for my own amusement.
But friends! Really, I'm sure I'll be totally happy for you or whatever, and I'll support you if you don't want to get married in costume or you allow children to come. If I dislike the person you're marrying, I'll politely keep it to myself (or at least only talk about you behind your back). But please, make sure Christina is also invited, because if she isn't you know she's going to just end up being my date (the idea of ever being at the wedding-date stage with someone I'm dating seems TERRIFYING and UNLIKELY). And can you do me a favor at and have something on the menu I like? Otherwise, I'll get really shitty at the open bar.
Adam once said that the wedding is really more for their friends than for family, which is a pretty good point. As the years go on and people end up hitched and have moved on, think of how often you're going to see them (if you don't immediately cut them all out of your life on the way to your honeymoon destination). You'll see your family every year at holidays, birthdays, and, eventually, other weddings. But your friends are the ones who you'll want to remember at your wedding at having had a great time - they're the ones who will actually be in the wedding, after all. So make sure they're the ones who have a good time. And by "they," I mean specifically me.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
I had seen Tracy Letts in two plays at Steppenwolf while Christina worked there: The Pillowman (an amazing Martin McDonagh play, and the first big production of a straight play I'd ever seen) and Betrayal (a Harold Pinter snoozefest that was saved by the three actors' strong performances). I unfortunately missed August, even though Christina raved about it. And now it's on Broadway, winning the Pulitzer, and expected to pick up a Tony next week. Luckily, the production will be going on a national tour next year, so I will get to see it (although without the original Steppenwolf cast).
Tracy Letts was a great speaker; to listen to his experience as a member of a supportive ensemble that allowed him to create a three-and-a-half-hour play with a three-story set is pretty impressive. And he sounded surprisingly modest for someone who just one a Pulitzer, who said, "You know, I don't feel a lot of pressure about my next play [Superior Donuts, which opens this month]. If it's a disaster and bombs, it's not a big deal. I'll just write another play." He also had a lot of great things to say about Chicago theatre, and the actors who live and work in this city. "A lot of New York producers didn't understand why the cast wasn't absolutely thrilled to be taking the play to New York and living there for several months," he said. "They seem to think that people in Chicago live here because we have to, not because we like it here."
During the Q&A session it started to downpour and thunder a bit, but the huge audience stayed under the tent as the winds blew it around and water sprayed those of us sitting in the back. When the talk finished, and the thunder started clapping, I ran to the front with my copy of the play, as my goal for the day was to get Tracy Letts to sign it. As I stood in a line of about ten people near the stage, one of the Book Fair volunteers stood up to the microphone and said, "Not to alarm anyone, but everyone must evacuate the tent and find shelter. It's not safe under here."
I followed Tracy Letts and another small crowd of people into the glass-enclosed vestibule of a condo building. There were about ten of us standing there watching the rain pound on the sidewalk outside, knowing full-well that of all the places we could be, a small glass-enclosed shelter was probably not the safest. When the rain let up, we ran back outside, and a security guard informed us that another condo building three doors down was open and we could take shelter there. So, again, I followed Tracy Letts and a few other people into the building.
I was a little nervous about asking him to sign my book, as he was talking to a couple who announced that they proud Steppenwolf subscribers. They had some friend, apparently, who was a theatre producer, so they had stories of all of these shows in New York they had seen from the current Broadway season. Finally, when they stopped gushing over their new friend, I asked Tracy Letts to sign my copy, which he did.
And that's the story of how I took shelter from a possible tornado with a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer.
Monday, June 09, 2008
I've always had this thing where I've had to have a plan. Well, I have to always construct a plan. I'm pretty terrible at following things through. Right now my goal is to write more, specifically write more things not on the Internet and try to do something with that writing.
My other goal: to stop whining on the Internet so much.
I started reading Rachel Shukert's Have You No Shame? It's pretty funny, and well-written; so far it's one of those good memoir/essay/story collections, in the vein of Sedaris but written by an overwhelmingly (and not in a bad way) Jewish gal. As I was reading it, and having had someone tell me last night I really ought to write a memoir, I keep thinking, "There's absolutely no reason why I can't do this, too." So maybe that's a goal? I dunno. But it would be a project, at least, and I could use one of those.
Right now, my big fear is that the people I make fun of on my blog are forming some unholy alliance and will take me down. I know that's kind of silly, but nothing is more disturbing than imagining my ex, the guy from Facebook, Emily Bronte with a Gmail account, my Southern Lit professor from DePaul, the guy I described as looking like the front-half of a satyr, and, eventually, my roommate will all unite and form some sort of militia whose mission is to destroy me. I know it's a little far-fetched, but such a fear is probably a good thing in the long run, one that will perhaps push me into some sort of maturity enlightenment.
Friday, June 06, 2008
It's been one of those weeks.
To do this weekend:
- Buying an air conditioner, as it is already eighty degrees in my room and I don't particularly enjoy sitting in my underwear and sweating a lot.
- Getting drunk because duh.
- Seeing a show at the Chicago Improv Festival with TJ Jagodowski, Lutz from 30 Rock, and Jason Sudekis.
- Haircut! (My head is constantly sweaty.)
- Tracy Letts and the rest of the fun at the Printers Row Book Fair. I will be buying a lot of books.
This is what I look like when I discover that the air conditioner is too big for my window by half an inch, and then I spend thirty minutes unsuccessfully installing it into another window. You know? Fuck that air conditioner.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Monday, June 02, 2008
I hated The Strangers. So much, in fact, that David and I spent twenty minutes screaming about it in the car. Because we were angry.
I was mad, for one, that they somehow managed to get a Joanna Newsom song on the same record (as in VINYL) as a Gillian Welch song. I don't think that the "strangers" came in at some point, switched the album from The Milk-Eyed Mender to Time (The Revelator) just so that the needle would skip during the part of "My First Lover" when Gillian sings "Quicksilver girl" (a reference to the Steve Miller song). Also, how did they get a demo version of "At My Window Sad and Lonely" by Billy Bragg and Wilco? (Here's a note to the film's director: just because you use non-mainstream music in your film doesn't mean you're not going to get someone who isn't a Daughtry fan to come see it and CALL YOU OUT ON YOUR SHIT. Sure, a lot of people didn't notice it but I DID and ALL OF MY OPINIONS ARE RIGHT.)
I was also very angry when the film started and the placard told us that it was based on a true story - which it is not, by the way. What's worse is that someone narrated that, as if the director anticipated that his audience would be too stupid to read what's on the screen. That should have tipped me off right there.