Wednesday, July 31, 2013

two of my heroes


elizabeth cotten


Pawn my watch

Pawn my chain
Pawn everything that was in my name

Oh, lordy me
Didn't I shake sugaree?
Everything I got is done and pawned
Everything I got is done and pawned






Karen Dalton



You've got me feeling again
The feeling you gave me before
But to you those nights like any other night
Tonight is just one more
Just one more night makes no difference
As long as there's another night
To make right what you did wrong


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oRJyffGdIY

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Maurice Sendak

The late, great and grumpy Maurice Sendak is a fascinating character to me.  I love his works, especially Really Rosie, who was my absolute hero growing up.  He was a Polish Jew Homosexual with a serious chip on his shoulder -- does it get any better than that?  One of his stories, In The Night Kitchen, is my favorite lately.  I have this Scholastic video of some of the best animated Sendak stories that my son has been watching lately, and there is so much about the night kitchen that is just inscrutable to me.  one thing I noticed, though, that I finally found visual proof of is this:







Though Sendak has gone on the record saying there's no holocaust symbolism in this story (despite the 3 identical bakers' Hitler mustaches) it's hard to ignore the similar font on the oven Mickey is going to be baked in, and the classic Mickey Mouse font -- we all know Walt Disney was a son of a bitch, 'cute' bottom-loving, Nazi sympathizer.  So I believe this similarity in fonts is intentional.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Zine Fest

Hi!  I haven't had much time for this blog because I've been insanely busy being the woman who has it all, but also I've been focusing on preparing some zine and craft wares from my partner in crime's booth at the upcoming SF Zine Fest:

http://www.sfzinefest.org/exhibitors/

The booth is called Gypsy Tart.  She will of course be offering tons of breathtakingly revolutionary and beautiful wares, but the things of mine she'll be peddling are a few of my little yarn crafts, hard copies (meat space!) of a few issues of my old favorite sweetheart zines, and a BEST OF SWEETHEART REDUX (admittedly a slender volume, as I didn't feel I needed to include all my back and forth rages with unfair Etsy sellers and assholes who used the word "retard" in Facebook convos .... it doesn't really translate well on the printed page!).

P.S If you have no interest in zines, at least make an appearance to feast your eyes on this beautiful beautiful mermaid manning the booth.  what a pair of gams and a smile that won't quit.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

foreboding

This world of ours appears to be 
separated by a slight and precarious 
margin of safety from a most 
singular and
unexpected danger.

(sir arthur conan doyle)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pondering the Concept of Hipster

I never worried about whether people thought I was a hipster or not, which is a statement fraught with conflicting meanings:  to worry about whether you are thought of as a hipster can and does mean both that:

If genuinely interesting people are saying to themselves, “Oh, she’s a hipster,” it probably means they’re writing you off as being a sort of mainstream or shallow version of an artistic/outsider person

But

If someone isn’t thinking of you as a hipster, it could mean they don’t notice that you’re interested in counterculture stuff, like that your visual cues to signal that you are interesting aren’t working at all, and the really old gap skirt you bought at a thrift store looks like it was something bought NEW at a Gap store, etc.

The label of Hipster is one of those ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ things.  I never worried about whether people thought of me as a hipster because my artistic temperament came from having a genuinely poor, mentally unstable and interesting mom.  So like, I never tried to ‘look poor’ like hipsters sometimes do, because my mom really is poor, and she gets pretty dresses from thrift stores because that’s just how she was raised, not because she’s making some fashion statement as hipsters are wont to do with used clothes, so by proxy, that’s how I am about clothes, so since it was a natural part of my upbringing, I was never faced with having to make a concerted effort to buy used clothes, the way I’ve noticed many hipsters who were raised at least middle class do.  They’ll be at a Target and have this type of internal conversation:  oh this black and white striped T-shirt is so cute, it looks like Jean Seberg’s in Breathless, but if I wore it, strangers who shop at Target will know I shop at Target when they see me in it,” and with me, I’m just like “Fuck it, this Mossimo striped shirt is only $6, I’m getting it.”  Another reason I never had to struggle much with the fashion issues that plague some people stuck in this whole hipster/not hipster quagmire I guess I’m in is that I never had very good style.  Or I should say that I am conscious of always having been attracted to attractive people who don’t dress well, so that led me to feel like it’s okay when I don’t dress well. 

Also, a lot of hipsters pretend that they have a chip on their shoulder, because there’s something very cool about being invulnerable, and that’s really what hipsterism boils down to, being thought of as cool in an artsy way.  I did used to worry about my vulnerability showing through, but then I got enough street cred from horrible things happening to me to never have to worry about how I come off.  When something really horrible would be happening to me (heart surgery, physical attack by skinheads when I played my first show, etc) I’d think to myself “I’m never going to feel fully part of this world again – I’m always going to feel separate.”  And that’s an air that hipsters cultivate as part of showing their uniqueness, being separate from everyone else.  This may sound like I think I’ve had a bad life or something, and I really don’t – I think I’m very lucky – let’s just say I think I had an unsheltered, not bad, life.  And when something bad happens to a person, like when someone has heart surgery at a young age like I did, the consoling thoughts they have depend on what type of person they are – a religious person would probably feel like the fear and physical pain of heart surgery made them closer to God.  But I was always interested in being known and being a part of art and music and culture in general in some way, so the type of consoling thoughts I often told myself had to do with never doubting my worth again.


Anyway, when the concept of hipsterism comes to my attention, these are the conflicting instincts I have, and this was the case when I attended Day One of the Renegade Craft Fair at the Los Angeles State Historic Park on Saturday.  It just seems so bizarre and laughable the way things catch on and  become trendy.  For instance, my husband and I made some really good pickled carrots a few years ago and used to want to sell them.  But then we started looking at what a hassle it’d be to be certified for stuff like that, and we both work full-time so it seemed too time-consuming …. Then I started to notice a lot of pickled foods on Etsy … and then I read about pickling being the new hipster craze that Portlandia is/was doing a running gag on.  Somehow, pickling has become trendy, and my husband and I were following a trend without even noticing any outside influences that might have gotten us wanting to pickle.  So guess what there was a lot of at this crafts fair?  You guessed it, PICKLES!  And guess what else there was as lot of.  YARN!  And what do I love to do as my favorite hobby?  Knit and crochet, with …. YARN!!!!  And what else do I love?  The Royal Tenenbaums!  What did I buy at the craft fair?  An illustration of my favorite scene from The Royal Tenenbaums!  Also notable is my love of saying and writing words like cock and tits and fuck, as well as my love of a woodland-y motif, like foxes and deer.  LUCKY ME!, there was a booth there selling t-shirts and mugs with drawings of cute little woodland creatures on them and cursive-written “Cunt” and “Cock” etcetera.  So, what I’m trying to say is, other than being one of the few ladies there with her husband and baby in tow, this place was right up my alley, though I hate to admit it.  Aesthetically I seem to be subject to a lot of the same whims of the type of people called hipsters.  At the same time I felt really different from the other people there, personality-wise.  The main reason for this is that most of the vendors seemed rather unmotivated.  I think that the fair technically started at 11 am but that some online publications got it wrong and said it started at 8 am.  We wake up at 6 or so most days so we were there at around 9, but we weren’t the only ones.  There were at least a hundred other shoppers milling around, but 1) the convenient parking was reserved for vendors, not customers (lame) and 2) vendors that were set up looked completely uninterested in selling anything – almost every booth I passed seemed like its owner was just fussing over little details.  I was so curious (this question may sound rhetorical but is genuine):  is this how most of the vendors make their main living?  Or is it a hobby?  And if it is the main living for most of them, do they just live really cheaply so they don’t care about being motivated, or are they trust fund kids or something?  I just cannot conceive of paying to have a booth at a craft fair and then just standing around talking in front of your merchandise so that nobody can see it and taking forever to set up.  There’s something about leisure that seems so disingenuous to me, and dressing poor when you’re not seems insincere as well, and I think apathy is tacky when there’s no edge to it – like when Kurt Cobain asserted his apathy in his lyrics and his rudely spacey interviews, it was like he was apathetic to keep from being mad or too depressed for words, but the sort of feet-dragging blah of this fair was just like … was everyone just waiting for customers to go away so they could post selfies on instagram or what?  Jesus, people, be more uptight and old already! 

Miley Cyrus's Brother

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Interview with Leon Bing

Leon Bing is a family friend I used to deeply idolize when I was a kid.  I was too young to know her biography or to have read any of her books, but what I admired about her was her artistic lifestyle, her cool house with the pretty knickknacks and her devil may care personality and beautiful clothes.  I managed to figure out Twitter well enough to get back in touch with her recently, and to ask for this great and enlightening interview, which includes the best beauty tip I’ve ever heard, a must-do for renegade girls! 

Ms. Bing is a model turned writer who worked with iconic fashion designer and gay activist Rudi Gernreich in the 1960’s, and later became a journalist for L.A. Weekly, before writing several critically acclaimed non-fiction books.  Much of her personal history is covered in her memoir, Swans and Pistols: Modeling, Motherhood, and Making It in the Me Generation, so our interview focuses more on preferences and inspirations.  

  

What were your favorite and least favorite things about modeling? 

Favorite thing about modeling:  getting the clothes I showed at a discounted price.  Oh – and my hourly rate, which was pretty damn good.  And, of course: being paid to show off.
Least favorite things:  Not very many.  I had a good career and I knew that was a lucky break.  Modeling, contrary to what many people think, is a fairly easy gig.  Show up on time.  Hope for a great dresser who will get you out on the runway on time and looking good.  Keep your hair well trimmed and clean and don’t gossip in the dressing room.


What were your favorite and least favorite things about the social scene of the 1960s?

I liked the fact that I could pretty much pick and choose socially, and since I’m not an avid party-goer, I mostly just hung with my friends.  I didn’t like when guys asked me out only because I was a model.  Those jerks never scored.


You are a strong, smart and successful woman – I am unsure if you’d consider yourself a feminist, now or in the 60’s, so instead of that term I’ll use “empowered,” and ask you this – what was it like to be an empowered woman in the 60’s in the fashion world? 

I don’t know if I was “empowered”, but I was treated very, very well when I was working in fashion in the 60’s.  I always felt respected both as a woman and as a model.

Do you have any story from your modeling and/or social career that you’d like to share that you think was just a perfect, crazy and typifying moment in time? 

No single moment.  But a couple of doozies show up in the memoir.  Well, more like shockers.

How do you feel about contemporary culture?  What are your favorite recent films, writers, bands, fashion designer? 

I’m okay with contemporary culture, even though I bitch a lot.  But then, I always did.  About my favorite films and writers, et al:  I have rather catholic tastes:  I very much like Hilary Mantel, Joan Didion, Antonia Fraser, Scott Turow, and David Sedaris.  I re-read Henry James often.  For films?  That’s a little tougher.  Lot of dreck out there lately.  The last movie I liked was The Iron Lady; Meryl Streep was great as Margaret Thatcher (whose ultra conservatism drove me nuts).  Just ordered the series House of Cards on Netflix. Saw the PBS version years ago and loved it.  For TV, although you didn’t ask:  I’ve seen every episode of The Sopranos more than twice, and  wept when James Gandolfini died.  I also like Breaking Bad.  Favorite bands:  Florence and the Machine, and everything Van Morrison has ever sung.  Fashion designer?  Three: the late, great Gernreich,  Armani and Donna Karan.  Great tailoring is as important as design.  But I pretty much live in beat-up 501’s, t-shirts, and boys’ pajama bottoms and wife-beaters when the weather is too damn hot.

What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?

Favorite book I’ve written is Do or Die.  Probably because A: it was the first book about the L.A. gangs, B: it’s never been out of print, and C: because it’s still relevant.

When you were interviewing members of the rival Los Angeles-based gangs the Bloods and the Crips, for your 1992 book Do or Die, did you ever come to feel completely at ease with those you spent time with on a regular basis?  Could you say you grew to genuinely like any of the gang members, and vice versa?  And did getting to know them have any impact on your ethical stances; for instance, were you 100% anti-violence until you saw how it can be a necessity for some people, or any ethical changes like that?

Yeah, I was at ease with the gang members (both Crips and Bloods) I interviewed and got to know.  I made some good friends and am still in touch with some of the guys. One just got married to the sweetest girl; he’s been in prison for nearly twenty years (sentenced at 18) and I love him like a son.  He’s up for parole soon, and we’re hoping...

What gave you the idea for your book Smoked:  About the Kids Next Door?  Did it start with a sociological interest in the lives of affluent youth, or did an interest in them grow from hearing their story in the news?

Smoked started out as an assignment from my editor (Bob Love) at Rolling Stone.  But then HarperCollins wanted it as a book.  I wish I’d done more research on that one; it could and should have been a better book.

Does your book Wrongful Death, A: One Child's Fatal Encounter with Public Health and Private Greed, about a young teen who commits suicide while supposedly being closely watched in a psychiatric facility, feel like an extension of the themes in Do or Die and Smoked?  I see a motif of youth in distress in all 3 books, for instance, and I wonder if this is a particular instance of yours?

I guess there is a theme of youth in distress in my first three books, but the real reason for writing A Wrongful Death was my outrage at corporate greed.  Christy Scheck’s tragic death while on a suicide watch in one of those for-profit psychiatric units was the heart of the story, and I extrapolated from there.

Did you enjoy working as a journalist for L.A. Weekly?  Do you read that publication, and if so, any thoughts?  (Personally, I’m really disappointed in the sloppiness of a lot of their blog journalists’ writing.  I used to love reading it when I was a teenager, but ever since a shockingly blasé treatment of journalist Lara Logan’s sexual assault at the hands of several Egyptian protesters during the time of Mubarak’s overthrow, I haven’t respected it as a paper anymore.)

I truly enjoyed (and was very lucky) to do my first pieces of journalism for the L.A. Weekly.  I had a brilliant editor --  Eric Mankin – and I worked with a great photographer,
Howard Rosenberg, who remains one of my closest friends.  There’s a whole chapter about breaking in as a writer in Swans and Pistols.

What are you working on these days?

I’m currently at work on a long piece about an ex-bullshark of a gangbanger who has turned his life around in a nearly unbelievable way. 

You’ve stayed so, so beautiful and glamorous.  Any fashion or beauty tips to pass along?

I don’t know about “beautiful and glamorous” (I’ll have to remember that the next time Gareth Seigel (my Mister for nearly 11 years: smart, gorgeous, and an extraordinary photographer and person who makes me pee my pants laughing) but my biggest beauty tip is NEVER use soap on your face and/or neck.  Just Lubriderm and a warm washcloth.  Filth would seem to be the answer here.  Filth, and a great sex life.


Any thoughts you’d like to leave us with?


I guess my parting shot would have to be this:  If you want something badly enough, then go after it with everything you’ve got.  Just make sure you can deliver the goods.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Great News!

I usually just delete my spam emails but today there were two I felt like writing back to, just to see what would happen.  This was probably a mistake, like, responding to them may have somehow given them access to my information.  I was only thinking about this blog and how it'd be funny to post my responses to these weird scam emails.  Anything for attention.  So I hope you're satisfied.
xox Robin
 **********
--- Forwarded Message -----
From: (me)
To: Barr. James Marshall
Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 1:04 PM
Subject: Re: 


Wow, a lawyer from Africa!  How exotic.  What a bummer about your client's car accident.  Sounds gnarly!  Yeah, i would love to have some extra money.  Who wouldn't!  I'm about to be evicted next month and I have no hands, so it will be really hard to panhandle if I end up homeless (I have $10K in the bank but I can't remember my PIN and don't know how to ask for a new one!). Please tell me more.  

From: Barr. James Marshall
To:
Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 12:58 PM
Subject: 


TEMPLE CHAMBERS & ASSOCIATES
(LEGAL PRACTITIONERS)
No: 85, Hillbrow,
Johannesburg, South Africa.

Dear Friend,

How are you today? I know that this mail may come to you almost a surprise as we never met before, but before you proceed on the reading of this email, I will want you to settle your mind and read carefully for a good understanding of the situation. I decided to contact you after much prayers and consideration since I cannot be able to meet with you face to face for now and by God’s grace, I believe you are a reliable type.

However, I am Barrister James Otis Marshall, personal attorney to the late Engr. Ronald Campbell, a national of Northern America, who used to work with Shell Company here in the Republic of South Africa, on the 11th of June, 2005, my client, his wife and their only child were involved in a car accident along Cape Town express road, unfortunately they all lost their lives in the event of the accident and since then, I have made several inquiries to several Embassies to locate any of my clients extended relatives, this has proved unsuccessful.

After these several unsuccessful attempts, I decided to trace his relatives over the Internet maybe I can locate any member of his family but to no avail, hence I contacted you, I want you to assist in repatriating the money and property left behind by my client, I can easily convince the bank with my legal practice that you are the only surviving relation of my client, otherwise the Estate he left behind will be confiscated or declared unserviceable by the bank where this huge deposits it presently lodged in accordance with the Government’s Law as provided in section 129 sub 63(N) of South African Banking Edit of 1961 which says that at the expiration of eight years the fund will be reverted to the ownership of South African Government, if nobody applies to claim the fund.

Particularly, the Bank where the deceased had an account valued at about US$17,431,000.00 (Seventeen million Four Hundred and Thirty One Thousand U.S. American dollars) consequently issued me a notice to provide the Next of Kin or have the account confiscated within the next ten bank working days.

Since I have been unsuccessful in locating any of his relative, I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin to the deceased, so that the proceeds of this account valued at US$17,431,000.00 U.S dollars can be paid to your account and then you and I can share the money 50% to me and 50% to you.

All I require is your honest cooperation to enable us see this deal through and also forward the following to me so that I can file an application of claim in your name to the bank immediately;
1, Your Full Name:

2, House Address:

3, Your Country:

4, Your Contact Telephone Number:

5, Your Age and Gender:

6, Your Occupation:

I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law.

More importantly, you are strictly advised to send your reply to my Private and Personal email address bellow for security and confidential reason (jomarshall09@yahoo.com).

Yours Faithfully,

Barr. James O. Marshall.

******************

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: (me)
To: "timothy_george50@yahoo.co.jp"
Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 12:59 PM
Subject: Re: 


This is such great news.  My grandmother lost her life savings when she was scammed by someone on the internet, and now she has to live with my husband and our three adopted children, and we just found out she has to have her liver removed.  I already work 5 jobs and my husband works a 15 hour shift at his job at the fertilizer factory, so this money would come in handy, believe me!  Who do I know in Hong Kong that gave my my information?  
Please tell me more.
Thanks.


From: Timothy F. George
To:
Sent: Monday, July 15, 2013 3:15 PM
Subject: 




Dear Sir/Madam,

I am Timothy F. George, the Director for Credit & Marketing Chong Hing Bank, Hong Kong, I have a business proposal of USD$38,980,369.00 (Thirty Eight Million, Nine Hundred and Eighty Thousand, Three Hundred and Sixty Nine USD)) for you to transact with me

Contact me via my email address if interested: timothy_george50@yahoo.co.jp


Yours Sincerely,
Timothy F. George


Monday, July 15, 2013

Rest in Peace Cory Monteith

Over the weekend I was saddened to learn of the death of Glee’s Cory Monteith.  I feel the same way about the TV show Glee as I do about Marilyn Manson:  the end-product might be a little tacky, but I’m excited by any phenomenon geared towards youth that successfully gets them not to be conservative – Marilyn Mansion’s music is a good antidote to the fundamentalist Christianity some kids are raised with, and Glee is a big festival of teaching moments about uncloseted queerness and queer-friendliness and acceptance.  That is my removed stance on Glee, but to be honest, I was also really into Seasons 1, 2 and 3 of the show.  Time and again people have chided me for getting emotionally invested in fictional characters but my stance is that it’d be a waste of time to watch or read anything if I didn’t get emotionally invested, because characters are supposed to feel real, and if something was unsuccessful in that way, I’d like to think I wouldn’t bother to waste time with it.  So while watching seasons 1 through 3 of Glee, I got really excited when gay characters got their first gay kiss and when the nerd won her dreamboat boyfriend away from a mean cheerleader, or when that mean cheerleader turned nice, etcetera.  And I really liked Finn Hudson, the character Monteith played.  He was a popular kid who stood up for gay kids and nerds even though he became unpopular in the process, and he was sweet and loyal to his family and friends.  Maybe Monteith, who was over 10 years older than Finn, his fictional shadow, wasn’t Finn, but he put Finn in motion and made me believe in him, and I am going to miss the place in the murky warehouse of my subconscious where there was a living, breathing, open-minded, loyal, silly kid with Cory Monteith’s boyish, sweet and open face.   



Friday, July 12, 2013

List for a Summer Friday

The Pretenders' Brass in Pocket

I try to approximate the time travel Billy Pilgrim is able to effortlessly accomplish in Slaughterhouse 5 by researching every facet of my memories on the internet.  If I suddenly remember that for a long time I saved a postcard of cats dressed as people in a box of special things for years and years, I look up “postcards cats as people” and voila, now I know that what I’m remembering is a postcard  by Alfred Mainzer.  Three shadows from my past are coming to mind, however, as unsolvable mysteries that I can never find adequate online information about, at this is them:

Nardi’s Gay Bar in Pasadena, CA on Colorado Boulevard:  when my mom’s best friend Bill Tunilla was still alive and before his legendary used bookstore went out of business, I spent at least 3 hours a weekend sitting in the little area of collapsing, gray from filth wing chairs in the center of the store, encamped among stacks of books and magazines mom and me set aside to look through before they got shelved for sale.  Bill’s loyal customers always thought those chairs were there for them, that Bill, their god of cat/England/literature-loving bachelorhood put these chairs there because he loved talking to them so much, but HELLO!, those chairs were there for me and my mom, the queen and princess of Bill’s bookstore.  The 3 of us were outcasts, and as a little kid I thought of gay people as outcasts too, so I loved the fact that there was a gay bar next door to the bookstore, and I was endlessly pleased when I heard songs I liked (usually The Pretenders’ Brass in Pocket) coming through the wall from their juke box.  I only got to go in there a couple times and only for a few seconds each time.  It was eventually torn down.  But when?  I don’t remember, and this seems a very important fact for me.  I have so many dreams where Bill is still alive and we’re hanging out in an old version of Pasadena that no longer exists, often in his bookstore that was torn down along with Nardi’s, and the dreams feel so real but they are just dreams.  But if I could only find some cache of information about Nardi’s online, preferably a pictorial history of it, I would feel so much less frustrated by the fact that Bill can be so alive in my dreams and so dead in the waking present.

Little Nell:  Like many weirdos, I loved The Rocky Horror Picture Show when I was a teenager, feeling that it was “my” movie, and getting excited when I noticed little things in it I’d never noticed before (“Wow, did you see that?  The people in the crowd at the wedding are the same actors who play Magenta, Riff Raff and Columbia!  Is that supposed to mean that they had their eye on Brad and Janet from the get-go and somehow orchestrated their flat tire so they’d have to end up at the castle?!  I wonder…”).  By far my favorite character was Columbia, played by a woman named Nell Campbell, called “Little Nell” in the film’s credits.  What would be my dream Rocky Horror minutiae to unearth some day while very bored and looking at stuff online?  Pictures and pictures and pictures of Little Nell in her day-to-day life as well as in her other film roles, and very many in-depth interviews with her about her dreams and aspirations.  But she has hardly any online presence.  The Wikipedia page about her has no photos, and when I type “Little Nell Campbell” on Google, it auto-completes to “Little Nell Dead?”  Shit, if she is dead, I want to see what her urn is an unusual shape and if Tim Curry did the eulogy.  But I never find any adequate information about her to sate my curiosity.

Michelle Johnson:  Michelle was one of the artsy adults I totally wanted to be like when I was a little kid.  She was a friend of my mom’s, and when I was a teenager, we hung out a few times without my mom, practically as peers.  Because her name is so common, I have a particularly hard time Googling her, because there are so many women with her name, even just living in the area she used to live in when I still knew her.  I have to be satisfied just wondering what she looks like or thinks like now, when I wake up from dreams in which she’d been a character.    

an Alfred Mainzer cat postcard

Little Nell as Columbia

This is the bookstore that expanded on Colorado Boulevard -- the owner owned the whole block and raised Bill's and Nardi's rents impossibly high so he could make them go out of business, and expand his store.  This is where retired CalTech and Occidental College professors go to buy $7 slices of carrot cake and Cafe Au Laits to sip while sitting in the coffee shop there, listening to Enya and looking over their recent purchases:  The new issues of the New Yorker and The Atlantic.  That's alright, but what about the outcasts?

Billy Pilgrim 



Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fear of a Female Planet

I haven’t felt at a disadvantage because of my sex in a long time.  In high school it seemed it was going to always be the worst thing in the world to be female.  Literally every day some man or boy would sexually harass me at the bus stop as I waited for my bus home.  And we had a ridiculous stomach turning assholish duo running my junior high and high school, two disgusting evil horrible pigfaces as the vice principal and principal, so my school felt like a sexist place every day, and that was so depressing, because even though I was old enough to know better, I still felt like children should be protected by adults.  I’m tempted to tell all the frustrating stories from this time period that acted as catalysts for me being a very outspoken feminist in my teens, but if you are a girl reading this, chances are you already have your own stories of teachers telling you ‘boys will be boys’ and getting shut down in class because you weren’t expected to know the answers, or maybe even, like me, you have worse stories like of a school security guard with a long history of child molestation trying to woo you, and none of the teachers or counselors giving two shits when you find out he’s been the “boyfriend” of a 12 year old girl all year and you try to help or protect her.  Anyway, as an adult woman, I feel stronger and more capable and even more respected in general than many of my male counterparts.  Most days I feel like I could chew through iron if I needed to.  But sometimes I still feel sad to be a woman.  Some days my pussy stinks from how heavy my period is and my mustache shows up on my upper lip more noticeably than usual and my feet sweat in their cute Mary Janes and I feel that in some ways I am a loser, and that I’ve let my looks go, which even seems to disappoint my male doctors, who used to practically clap and sing “Bravo!” and throw roses at me when I was underweight and so beautifully neurotic, instead of the workhorse I sometimes feel I am now.  Almost every day somebody asks me when I’m due, because I have a huge round belly full of fat and a big fat ass.  So I suck my stomach in wherever I go, and I dread being on the elevator with anyone else, because for some reason nobody can stand a quiet elevator ride and that seems to be the time most people decide it’s safe to go ahead and assume I’m pregnant and ask me about it.  And now I’m wary of people being nice to me at work, especially new people, because I’m almost positive the extra niceness is due to them thinking I’m pregnant.  I just want to be allowed to eat and be chubby in peace, and go on some exercise and no junk food regimen when I’m ready, not because I’m being shamed into it by a bunch of un-artistic, naively rude strangers.  And sometimes it stings to be an administrative assistant, instead of the writer or rockstar I’d imagined I was going to be.  As an administrative assistant, it sometimes feels like my job is to be the behind the scenes fixer of problems caused by men who work in big broad strokes and can’t be bothered with the details, the little crumbs of minutiae I’m supposed to labor over like a dumb high-strung bird picking through mud for worms to feed her babies.  Yes, sometimes it feels redundant and foul-smelling and under-appreciated and slightly ridiculous to be female. 

Too Chubby for Peace of Mind

Friday, July 5, 2013

Hero Worship


 
my hero!!!
As you can probably tell, I’m not just a reader and watcher of things, but a very enthusiastic fan of the stories I like, and a sworn enemy to the stories I don’t.  If I am just lukewarm about a book I’m reading, I end up hating it for its serviceability.  That’s how I was raised by my mother, who successfully struck up some sort of correspondence with at least a few of her favorite writers, the one that comes to mind being John Updike, who sent her a few autumn leaves from his front yard upon her request.  In turn, through my devotion to her writing and the happy coincidence of living in the same city and running in similar circles, I ended up having a very enriching friendship with the writer Francesca Lia Block in my teens.  I ended up spawning a few fans of my own though, by writing a sort of well-known (after years of working at it) zine in my teens and being in a couple bands, and I really like that aspect of my hero worship complex, the fact that I’ve been both a hero and someone in need of a hero.  The part I don’t like about my habit of adoration is that when I moved to Olympia, Washington to get my bachelor’s degree, in the late nineties, it was partially because I liked the structure of The Evergreen State College, but also because I’d been obsessed with the Olympia punk scene since I was 13, and I wanted to know my heroes and become one of them.  I didn’t become a hero, but I did become acquaintances with most of the people I’d worshipped (except my Hero Hero Hero of All Heroes, Kathleen Hanna, Goddess of my Feminism), and uh it did not work out well!  I mistakenly snaked one of their boyfriends (being unaware of the relationship until later) and got on that lady’s shitlist –holy shit, this is a woman I’d idolized for years!  I also had two gross lecherous acquaintanceships with 2 of the rare men that were a part of this music scene I loved so much.  I have a ton of disappointed memories like this.  It’s for the best to have had these experiences, because they really drove home the reality of human fallibility, and this is a lesson I needed to learn, because I had and still sort of have some very high expectations.  And as evidenced by this blog, I still look up to people I don’t know.  But by now they’re mostly dead (Kurt Cobain) or so huge (Obama) or so fictional (Hermione Granger) I will never run the risk of meeting them and  being disappointed.  I’m thinking about this because I watched an excellent film last night called This Must Be the Place, about an aging, Robert Smith-like rockstar named Cheyenne who is sad for years and years because 2 of his fans committed suicide and it was suggested that his gloomy songs had something to do with it.  In the present, he is good friends and very protective of a young girl who is in awe of him and has a catalogue memory of all his personal anecdotes, that’s how much she idolizes him – and there’s the suggestion that he feels responsible for making her happy because of the fans that’d killed themselves.  The character of Cheyenne is sweet and interesting but also self-awaredly pathetic and the scenes of young people who are starstruck by him very effectively depict the anticlimax of meeting your god.
a young John Updike
 


 Two thumbs up for This Must Be the Place and two “Hang in There!”s to the memory of my young self in Olympia and two nostalgically blown kisses to my pre-suicide fantasies of being best friends with Kurt Cobain and two “Please let me interview you for by blog!” begs to Kathleen Hanna and two enthusiastic wishes for you all to have a great weekend. xoxoxox Robin

Sean Penn in This Must Be the Place

"I come home - -she lifted up her wings
Guess that this must be the place
I can't tell one from another
Did I find you, or you find me?
There was a time before we were born
If someone asks, this where i'll be . . . where I'll be"
(Talking Heads)