Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween-month (month of horror movies) Film Review: 28 Days Later

One of the most exhilarating and touching movies I’ve rented this year has also been one of the films I just rented for my month of horror movie madness, Danny Boyle’s zombie movie 28 Days Later (2002).   Set in London, the insidious emotion rage has manifested from something felt to something physically passed from person to person, and once someone is infected, they turn into a hate-filled zombie, capable of speeding after their meal of uninfected people, unlike zombies past, who dazedly dragged their feet in a lazy moaning amble towards their victims.  Jim wakes up from a coma in a completely abandoned hospital, unaware of the zombie invasion and the eradication of most of the population until some zombies chase after him and he’s clued in by two other uninfected people who save him from the undead rabble and tell him what’s been going on while he’s been unconscious.  Jim is a sympathetic character from the start, risking his own safety more than once for the sake of sentimental attachments to the dead, and later, for the living father and daughter he and his only living acquaintance, the toughened up Selena, come across.  The father and daughter, Frank and Hannah, have set up their wrecked apartment as a beacon for other possible survivors, by lighting their sole window with beautiful old fashioned Christmas lights that play tinkly Christmas songs when plugged in.  This scene, with the characters sitting in a post-apocolyptic little hovel lit only by Christmas lights, has the visual feel of the kind of art my friends made in high school, when Christmas lights seemed to connote an early-blooming sense of nostalgia for their childhoods and, there was also something vaguely punk about Christmas lights – often when I went to parties thrown at cool people’s houses I noticed their bedrooms and houses were often lit by Christmas lights.  It kind of surprised me that Danny Boyle, a grown man, had the same sort of aesthetic as these teenagers of my past, and the scene was incredibly charming and melancholic, the way my old teenaged friends’ nostalgia was tinged with melancholy.  I felt a similar surprised enjoyment of a scene in which the main characters are awed by the sight of running, living horses amongst the carnage of the city (a lot of my wild artist college girl acquaintances were drawn to horse-related imagery, because of the wild power of horses).  This is a very autobiographical reaction to these parts in the movie, but I really am surprised that a grown man and the cuckoo female friends of my youth have the same artistic sensibility, and it really impresses me that he so successfully mixed these pretty scenes within the gross zombie-related gore of the rest of the film. 

The plot was just generally strong and full of twists, especially the main twist of the protagonists escaping the rage-filled zombies only to become hostages of the much worse non-infected soldiers they’d imagined would be their protectors.  These soldiers are warped potential rapists who actually make us feel sorry for the zombies, with the way the soldiers relish killing them.  Ha!, how true, these living people who’ve accepted violence as an institutional norm are supposed to still contain some humanity, since they’re still humans, but instead they’re scarier than the disgusting undead predators that are after them all.

2 other great things about this movie:

Feminism-wise, the female protagonists are on completely equal footing, kiss-ass wise, as the male protagonist – all 4 of them are good and true friends despite the fact that 2 of them are father and daughter (not a combination known for its equal footing) and the other 2 are a man and woman with a sexual tension between them (also not a combination that often exudes equality!). 

The revenge justice in this movie is very gratifying.

I give it 3 million thumbs up, both as a zombie movie and a testament to film as an art form.           

Rest in Peace Lou Reed

"How do you think it feels/when all you can say is 'if only'?"

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Interview with Nomy Lamm

Nomy Lamm is a legend.  In the 1990’s when I was a fairly successful zine writer, I often became penpals with other zine writers – we seemed approachable to each other, like instant friends, so keeping in touch felt natural.  Not so when I read Nomy’s zine “I’m So Fucking Beautiful,” started in 1993.  I didn’t feel like I could just send her a letter like “so what are you into?”; I felt like she was eons ahead of me in intelligence and experience, and that I’d do better to learn from her than to try being chummy with her.  We were acquaintances when I moved to Olympia in the early 2000’s, and recently she did me the favor of letting me sell some of her zines at a friend’s table at the SF zinefest.  I’m quite happy she is letting me interview her

In 2003 you recorded the album Effigy, featuring the accordion.  What led you to shift your focus from writing to music?  Have you played accordion for a long time?  I could be wrong but I find the accordion to be a particularly Jewish instrument.  Do you agree?  If so, does your choice of that instrument have anything to do with your interest in your Jewish culture? 

I’ve been writing since I was a kid, I’ve also been singing, doing theater, writing songs and plays and musicals and making up dance routines, drawing portraits and comics and writing poetry and short stories and crafting things, it’s just how I like to spend my time.  From a young age I had a lot of energy that felt stuck in me and needed lots of outlets.  As far as what the world sees, it’s just what has a venue at different times.  For example, I have been drawing for my whole life, but only every so often does that stuff make its way into the public.  My zines got some attention when I was in my late teens, and then a few years later my music started getting more attention. I was writing and performing music when my zines came out – in fact I wrote the first issue of ISFB because my band was playing a show and I was kind of coming out as a fat activist, I wanted something written to give people to explain my perspective.  I was still writing zines when I started recording and putting out albums.  The past few years I’ve been focusing more on fiction but very little of that has made its way into the world yet. I’m hoping soon it will. 

I started playing accordion around 2000, originally I figured out how to play a miniature one for a drag performance, just a simple oom-pa-pa.  Soon after, I found a mini-accordion at a shop on Valencia when I was visiting San Francisco (I lived in Olympia at the time).  I did everything I could with that tiny accordion, wrote a bunch of songs, learned some covers.  Then I moved to Chicago and bought a full size accordion and found out I was playing it backwards.  Which I’ve never changed, I was too far into it to switch.  As far as the accordion being a jewish instrument, yes, I associate it with klezmer, but an interesting thing about it is that it’s used in lots of different cultures’ music, people from lots of different backgrounds – Jewish, Mexican, Roma, Polish, French, Italian, etc -  come up to me and say things like, ‘that totally reminded me of my grandpa!’  People have these emotional familial connections with it.   My mom’s aunt and uncle both played accordion, that’s the non-Jewish side of my family.  My great-uncle was kind of a white cowboy, my great-aunt played in cabaret-type shows.  I think there was a time, historically, when lots of people played it, it was the thing to do to have your kids take accordion lessons.  Ghandi played the accordion!   And then it fell out of style for a long time.   So it feels nostalgic and personal for people now.  I feel it.  I think what I do with the accordion feels very Jewish. 

What is your favorite medium to work in?  Visual arts, spoken word, music, writing, or, if this counts in this category, activism? 

Drawing is the most private for me usually.  It’s very meditative and introspective.  Singing is healing for my body and helps me get out big emotions.  Writing is perhaps the most difficult for me but it lets me enter another world and work things out, set things up how I want them and move them around.  Activism, I try to let that be a part of everything I do and not something separate.  Activism as in, action that moves me in the direction of healing not only for myself but for the world.  I often feel discouraged about my ability to make a difference in the world in concrete ways, so I mostly just do what comes naturally and put it into the world and try to find places to make connections across barriers.  Just recently I’ve started co-teaching a creative writing class at the SF county jail.  This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and been intimidated to try, because it means entering such an intense institution.  Those kinds of environments are difficult to navigate.  I finally found an opportunity to teach in a jail that feels accessible to me, I’m working with someone I know and have connected with, so entering into the project I was able to ask her questions like ‘when we go into the jail are we going to be hustled down a long hallway really fast? Are they gonna pat us down?’  It’s just helpful for me to know what to expect in terms of what’s going to be required or expected of my body.  And then once I’m inside, I get to encounter all these amazing people who are stuck inside this institution all day every day.  It feels gratifying, healing to me, to be able to connect with the women inside, to encourage and hear their perspectives, to hold them with me as I walk back out into the sun.  I don’t know that I’m doing anything huge, but it is a concrete action that I can take and feel some healing across barriers.  I also do a lot of work around disability justice, with queers and people of color with lots of different types of disabilities, and most of this work is also arts-based, exploring sexuality and social justice and embodiment.  Art is the medium for most of my activism.  I also try to think strategically about where my little bit of money goes, you know there’s so much crowdfunding going on right now, everybody is struggling, and reaching out to each other for help.  So I try to specifically donate towards people’s medical bills, towards people who have survived really awful things and need support to get through it, towards art by queer and trans* people of color or youth in the sex trade… those are the directions my heart is pulled. 

The Transfused was an amazing musical you penned with the strong collaboration of the Need as well as most of the neighborhood.  I remember you and the cast marching in the Lacey parade in your costumes the summer the musical was showing at Capital Theatre.  Did you have any disconcerting interactions with homophobes that day?  What about in general?  Have you encountered much homophobia or fat-shaming in your day?  Or has your evident pride in yourself kept most of that at bay?

It was actually not part of any official parade, but after the closing matinee of the Transfused, after the Q&A, we took to the streets in costume with some of our props and a couple hundred audience members, and marched around downtown singing songs.  We went into Lakefair, which is a very not-queer, not-political environment, and we were going to try to set up our tripod – the ‘power station’ in the show – and sing around it, just for fun, to make a spectacle, to claim space.  But the police recognized the tripod as what was used to block intersections during the May Day protests.  You can set up a ten-foot tripod in an intersection and hang a person at its apex, and then the police can’t move it without harming the person, so it’s an effective way to block traffic.  Police were immediately like ‘no way, you can’t do that here,’ and they took the poles from us and were using them like a battering ram to get through the crowd.  We left Lakefair, and ended up marching to the bus station and singing songs there.  We had to go reclaim our tripod from the police station in the morning.  Meanwhile, the Olympian ran a story that the police headed off an anti-capitalist protest at Lakefair.  They had projected that they knew exactly what we were up to, and yes we were inspired by those protests, we were connected to those movements, but it wasn’t exactly an anti-capitalist protest, that’s not what most people involved considered it to be.   People wrote letters in response to the Olympian saying ‘that was a celebration of community musical theater!’  It was kind of funny, and to me felt subversive.  As far as homophobes, that I don’t remember. 

I have of course encountered homophobia and fat-shaming but have mostly managed to keep it further than arm’s length from my personal reality.  I’ve received a couple really evil emails over the years, telling me I’m so ugly and disgusting that I should die, that kind of shit.  But for the most part I don’t experience or take in that kind of shit because I’m pretty strategic about who I let in to my world, who I’m open to and allow myself to be touched or influenced by.  Interestingly, I have this sense that my disability protects me from a lot of that stuff, because people have this built-in pity mechanism, where they’re like ‘don’t look,’ or ‘oh wow you’re so strong.’  Also whiteness and education protect me, I don’t have to experience quite as much hatred coming at me as a lot of people do.  

What projects are you currently working on?

I’ve been writing a book called “515 Clues,” it’s a collection of short stories that are all interconnected through moments of trauma and transformation, connecting a handful of girls, queers and trans*people across boundaries of time and space. I’m trying to create this magical object, I know how I want the book to look and feel, like something old-fashioned and otherworldly.  And when you get absorbed into the specifics of these characters’ stories – a 13 year old girl in the Midwest coming to terms with her gender and sexuality, a transgender klezmer musician in eastern Europe in the 1880’s, a group of children in a Shriners hospital, a brother and sister hiding in a cupboard telling family survival stories – the idea is that you also connect into that place in yourself, the place where you are most alone but also most connected to the universe.  Do you know what I mean?  I think it is a very universal feeling, and a space I’ve spent a lot of time in my life, that aloneness that is so painful and magical.  So I’m trying to share that with people, create something tangible in the world that allows us to find each other in our most vulnerable and powerful selves.   I received a grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission to help me finish my manuscript, and then another smaller grant from the National Queer Arts Festival to create a performance event based on the book, called “515 Clues:  A Kabbalistic Collabaret.”    I’m also working on some collaborations with my partner, Lisa Ganser, who is a film maker, some short movies and mixed media collaborations.   I’m also excited that the Sins Invalid film about disability and sexuality was just completed and is starting to make the rounds to film festivals and universities and such.  I’m featured in the film, and it’s been in process for about six years, so it’s exciting that it’s out in the world.  Check out for more info. 

What is your favorite book, song, band, movie, celebrity girl crush?

I’ve made lists like this over the years but it’s been a while since I’ve added much to them… books I’ve been moved by include The World to Come  by Dara Horn, La Batarde by Violette Leduc, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick by Philip K. Dick, Touba and the Meaning of Night by Shahrnush Parsipur, I, the Divine by Rabih Alameddine… oh and I really love Amber Dawn’s new book, How Poetry Saved My Life.  Bands/musicians I love include Laura Marling, Regina Spektor, Kimya Dawson, Nneka, Bikini Kill, Cee Lo Green, Antony & the Johnsons, Tinariwen, Lole y Manuel, Chavela Vargas…  I saw a really fabulous performer last summer who lives in Seattle, named  dåko’ta, I highly recommend their music & poetry if you haven’t heard it.  oh and I love DavEnd’s music.   My favorite songs – “mother” or “oh yoko” by John Lennon, “bathysphere” by Cat Power, “maybe this time” from Cabaret, “I’m gonna be strong” by Cyndi Lauper, “you lost me” by Christina Aguilera … that’s a lot of really sad dramatic stuff...  For many years I said that “Man Facing Southeast” was my favorite movie, it’s an Argentine movie, it’s so good, but make sure you don’t get the dubbed version.  I love “Running on Empty” with River Phoenix.   And “Mysterious Skin” with Joseph Gordon Leavitt.  Watch out, that one will fuck you up. Celebrity girl crush… probably Christina Aguilera.  Or Cyndi Lauper.  Christina is just such a phenomenally good singer.  And Cyndi Lauper, she is so magical and weird, she saved my life when I was a kid. 

I may be behind the times, have you completed your MFA yet?  If so, was it a challenge to have to work w/in certain academic confines like that?

I did finish my MFA, about a year and a half ago now.  Yes, it was a challenge but also it was nice to have structure and support.  The school was losing a lot of funding and teachers didn’t have a lot of time for us, so I didn’t get the kind of mentorship I was really hoping for.  But, it was an opportunity, it was free, and I learned a lot of useful stuff, mostly just by taking the risk of writing and getting feedback, creating work that was not intended for immediate publication so it could develop and deepen over time in relation to the ways I was growing. 

If you could impart any one message to our readers, what would it be?

Hm.  I guess just, be authentic.  For me that means that my breath is in line with my gut and my heart.  Or as I say when I teach voice lessons, that you feel something, you let it out, it lands somewhere, it’s part of the world.  That doesn’t mean there’s not also self-consciousness, or self-editing, or feelings that feel too big, or numbness, but that there is still a circle, a flow, a connection that feeds something bigger that has our best interests at its root.  Life and love and growth and healing and deepening into balance.  I grew up having to dissociate a lot to get through the world and I know how easy or how necessary it can be to play a role, to be tough and guarded and negative.  Or just separate from your own self.  And those are authentic ways of being too, sometimes that is absolutely what is required.  It’s a subtle balance that each person gets a whole lifetime to feel out for themselves.   So really, I’m not giving any advice.  Just saying, good job for being here. 

Anything else you’d like to explain about yourself?

I recently lost my cat Jezebel, who was with me for eighteen years.  She was probably 21 years old.  I didn’t know her as a kitten, we found each other in a punk house I lived in in the mid-nineties.  In the last days of her life, she was teaching me about softness and sharpness.  One day when she was really sick and couldn’t move, we lay together on my bed in the sun, she was on my chest just melded into me, and I could feel us as this dark vortex surrounded by light, it felt so sweet and so comfortable and so soft, I just wanted to stay like that forever.  And then, in that open space, I received more information, that you can’t be alive and stay soft like that forever always, because softness leads to decay.  There has to be sharpness to balance it, to give definition and impetus.  Sharpness can be a movement or an idea, it can be an interruption or a calamity, a lesson or a loss, a push or a conundrum.  The next time I lay in that position with Jezebel, she wanted to rest her face right on top of mine,  and I could feel her sharp little tooth pressing into my nose.  Soft and sharp.  Now I keep a teacup on my altar, in it there is fur from her leg where they shaved it to give her the injection to put her down, and a needle I used to give her fluids the day before she died.  Soft and sharp.  I miss her and am so grateful to her for so many things.  I continue to assimilate this lesson.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Film Review - The Possession

The other day I started to review the 2012 horror film The Possession but I had only gotten halfway through it at the time, so here is part two of the review of this film that continues the tradition of the horror genre of devil possessions of young women’s bodies.  I really enjoy this theme, so I wasn’t bothered that some of the spooky things that the possessed girl did were a retread of past possession films – I think that’s a little inevitable since there’s only so much a demon can make a sweet girl do – she can be mean to parents, talk in weird voices, spew gross stuff out of her mouth, and kill enemies in weird ways.  That being said, this film definitely had some new facets to add the to familiar possession territory – mainly that the demon, and the religious figures who combat the demon, were Jewish, instead of the usual Catholic themes.  This was an interesting change of pace and also educational, because I learned about the Jewish demon box, a Dybbuk, a legend (or maybe a reality!!!!!  Spooky!!!) I’d never heard about before.  Matusyahu plays Tzadok, an Orthodox good guy who tries to help the demon-afflicted family, and I really can’t stand Matusyahu’s music, because it’s in that genre of laid-back funky white hippy hiphop, like Jamiroqui or Jack Johnson – mellow music that is so horrible-sounding it makes me feel the opposite of mellow.  He was really great as Tzadok though, a character who is supposed to be a breath of fresh air to all the horrible shit happening to the main characters.  Natasha Calis, the actress who plays the possessed 10 year old girl Em, also did a really good job.  It doesn’t stand out as a more enjoyable film than the similar The Last Exorcism (2010) or the Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), but I really like both those movies as well … if I had to recommend one of the 3, it’d be Exorcism of Emily Rose because that movie was for me the most emotionally investable of the 3 – Emily Rose is this great girl who is trying to stay sane through her freshman year of college but this demonic stuff keeps happening to her – sad!   I know there are some movies where guys, not girls, are possessed, and Lost Souls (2000) starring Winona Ryder, is a pretty good one, but it’s the flashbacks where she was once possessed and not the film’s present where she now helps a couple guys who are possessed, that are the most fun parts to watch.  I guess I’m just still an old Riot Grrrl disappointed that a girl-led anarchist society never came to fruition (she says as she sits and types at her cushy ergonomic chair, instead of the homemade splintery bench she would no doubt be sitting on if the grrrl revolution did happen and capitalism was toppled), so I now enjoy watching actresses portray wildly powerful and terrifying demons, like I used to be.  Anyway,  happy Halloween! 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Another Treasure Box

as with the other treasure boxes I've posted so far, this one holds fun, happy and depressing memories with a couple antiques and sequins thrown in.  

it's a neat old battered velvet box that is satin-lined inside:

The less personal antiques I've kept in here over the years (I think I started this box during college and continued adding things to it through my early twenties) are two little notebooks; one is a giveaway pocket notebook from union-made Carhartt Master Cloth Overalls, from 1947, and a little blue daily calendar, another free giveaway, from American Surety Company, from 1943.  Someone has written their social security number in that beautiful old-fashioned cursive, but there are no engagements or anything written in the calendar.  

Then there are little assorted things like write-ups pertaining to me in some way that I'd ripped out of L.A. Weekly -- these are all from when I was in high school but I think I moved them from an old  treasure box to this one because this box was sort of like my brag book -- it has numbers I got from boys and a couple girls from bars and parties when I was sowing my wild oats, a couple old love letters, and a couple very sweet friendship letters.  The clippings from the L.A. Weekly are about Elizabeth Dunn's birthday party at Jabberjaw and also a show my old band Foxfire played with The Third Sex, Patsy and Longstocking at the Impala.  One of the friendship letters is from an ex-friend and it makes me miss her friendship -- part of it goes:  I want you to believe in me, not like some dashboard jesus that tells the temperature, but the way everyone wishes that can believe in themselves."  The love letters from exes are too depressing to look at but it's just that sort of thing you have to keep one or two of, and the telephone numbers are seriously just like a reminder to myself at the time that wow people actually found me physically attractive, or at least enough.  

The prize of this box is a little come-on note that Steve Adler formerly of Guns N' Roses handed to me when I used to be a security guard at the building where he lived.  It's a pretty sleazy little note:

This is normally the type of thing I'd think is gross, but I LOVED Guns N' Roses obsessively when I was in my early teens, so I couldn't help but be flattered, and also, Adler was just a really sweet goofy guy, and it was sort of impossible to feel mad at him.  A lot of the other rich people that lived in that building would act like they were cool with me, as a palatable representative of the working man that they had to see when they entered their building, but then when they were in a bad mood about a neighbor making noise or the mail being late or when they were drunk, they turned into complete dicks to me.  But never Steve Adler -- he was always good-natured.  I think he is a little brain damaged and that he's had a stroke, because he only talks out of one side of his mouth, so maybe that also accounted for my feelings of friendship for him.  He asked me the next day if I got his note and I was just like "Uh-huh," and didn't follow up with any sign of interest or anger and he totally just left it at that and went on acting sweetly goofy.  Steve Fucking Adler from Guns N' Fucking Roses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fakakta Friday

My heart isn’t really in post-writing today because I feel down in the dumps.  My son got a huge bump on his head at day care yesterday, so huge and awful-looking that I kept reaching to him in the back seat when he started to fall asleep to keep him awake in case he had a concussion.  He’s pretty much fine except for having a huge painful  bump on his head.  They’re sort of just like whatevs about it at daycare, like rather non-responsive, and this is simultaneous with the situation of me having bought a ton of the cutest cute little Halloween toys for the daycare’s Halloween fest, and being so excited imagining the kids wearing bright spider rings and sticking jackolantern stickers onto their lunch boxes etc., but the bag of these toys went missing over a week ago and it’s just been sort of like ‘oh yeah, we can’t really find it.”  I cried about it, sitting at my pathetic little cubicle for all the workaday world to see, but then later there was an email saying they found the bag. But then in the list that was sent out to the parents saying who contributed what, it had my maiden name for some reason (I use it for my writing but not for anything else) and just said “stickers.”  The other thing that’s bothering me is that I have had a foot injury for about a month now.  At first when it was so disgusting and swollen and bruised I felt like I totally had a free pass to just put my feet up and ice the bad one when I got home and just like let a mess pile up everywhere and not give a damn.  But now it doesn’t look as bad, it just hurts and swells up by the end of the day.  Yesterday I finally went to a doctor, because even though the urgent care xray said it wasn’t broken, I feel that I have a fracture or something.  This new doctor was so professional and pleasant.  The doctor I’ve had off and on for years has become the botox king of Beverly Hills and his interest in being a general practitioner has sort of fallen off, so it was a relief to see someone who was nice, and she agreed with me that there was definitely something wrong.  I went and got an xray and everyone swore up and down the block that the doctor would get the results by today but she never called me and she went home already and I called the xray place directly and they said the results haven’t been written up yet.  These are small things but I feel seriously unenthusiastic because of them.

Anyway, more horror movie reviews.

I rented Halloween 2 last night, which I was really looking forward to seeing, because it’s sort of the grossest most violent one of the franchise.  Also, the beginning of it goes over a lot of the same ground of the events that happened at the end of the first Halloween, only in more detail, so it’s neat to be like “Oh, THAT’S what happened.”  It’s also a very scary premise.  The heroine is trapped immobilized in a hospital, a place where she’s supposed to be watched over and protected but is instead terrorized even worse.  But guess what?  I accidentally rented the Rob Zombie remake.  Yuck.  I could only watch 2 minutes before I pissed myself with fear and had to turn it off and throw salt over my shoulder and draw a protection circle around myself to ward off the devil.  Rob Zombie movies are the scariest grossest things that exist, besides real life.

I also watched The Innkeepers, partially because I knew Lena Dunham was in it, but it was a very brief cameo.  I wanted to like this movie because I like the subtle ennui and humor of the two main characters.  There was a slight and bittersweet longing the guy felt for the girl as well, that I really liked.  But the scary “BOO” type parts were unfortunately hackneyed – there’s this type of scary character in a lot of movies – it’s a woman or girl in a tattered Victorian dress, and she has no pupils, only the whites of her eyes, and black blood or something similar dripping from her mouth.  This stock character made an appearance in this movie, and I’m over her.  All the characters had the potential to contribute to an interesting story, but instead it was like a half hour too short and none of the little mysteries were explained.  It felt like a real rip-off.

I’m in the middle of watching The Possession, and I really like it so far, because it has parts with a little girl turning into a scary possessed unfeminine jerk and I love stuff like that, like when sweet little girls all of a sudden start pigging out at the dinner table and being rude and then stabbing their dad in the hand with a fork when he tries to get them to calm down, which happens in the movie.  I had to take a break from this movie though because the dramatic tension was getting to be too much, not the scariness but the unfairness of the custody battle between the divorcees in the movie (the dad gets his visitation rights taken away for allowing haunted metallic moths to fly down his daughter’s throat).  I’m sure I’ll resume watching it tonight though and for now I give it a tentative five out of five stars.

the victorian vixens of horror

The Others

The Innkeepers

Insidious 2

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Desolation Row

the window on the passenger side of my old car had been thoroughly shattered, but nothing valuable was missing inside, because there was nothing of value in there.  The one strange thing was that whoever it was that did thais had taken my favorite compilation CD, one I’d made recently and had left on the passenger seat.  I wasn’t sure if the cops were only called when a car had been stolen or something valuable like a cd player boosted from it but my room mate said an attempted break in was worth their time so I spoke with a team of cops that came by the house and took some photos of the old car.  Later I ripped up a thick green yard waste trash bag and duct taped it to the hole left by the broken window glass.  This made me look poor, but I didn’t mind; I was young and I’d been to college and it felt good to look poor.

One day a few months later I was driving down Sunset and there was a fragile, slow-moving blue Hyundai driving in the next lane, which I immediately took notice of the  car because I could hear a song from my stolen compilation cd coming out of the window, and when that one ended, I heard the next song start.  I took down the young man’s license plate, because I guessed I’d have to give the information to the cops.  I felt reluctant to do anything but follow the man, or boy, for a few miles.  This was partially the result of white guilt; his slicked back hair was so black, and his irises looked black too, and high cheekbones; to me he looked like a cross between Johnny Depp and early pictures of Emiliano Zapata that I’d seen in my Sophomore year class on the lasting Social Implications of the Mexican Revolution.  I just wanted to drive behind him for a few miles and see where he went.

I called the police and gave them his license plate number.  Presumably something bad but not too bad happened to him as a result of the insignificant break in to my old car.  A year passed and I gained twenty pounds.  Two years passed and I met my husband.  Four years passed and we got married.  In that first year of our marriage, I had three miscarriages.  Five years passed and my husband finally got the loan to start his HVAC business.  His office was in a gutted, stationary Airstream trailer on a lot in a business park, surrounded by other managers who ran their businesses from trailers.  His was the best.  He was the best.  It was amusing, the fact of his office in that trailer, when all the other trailers there were designed to look like real little buildings.  In his office, there were curtains I’d made from old t-shirts of ours and a huge and beautiful old mahogany desk that took up almost all of the floor space.  Customers never went there, of course.  People with HVAC problems called him and he dispatched one of his workers to the freezing cold or insufferably hot home. 

One day, a worker of his named Shan (formerly Shannon) called over to me when I was leaving the trailer and she told me, “Hey, it was kind of a weird job today.  The guy whose apartment I went to was playing all these songs that are like, the songs you always put on all the mix cd’s you make everyone.  It was too spooky, like too weird to just be a coincidence.”

A few minutes later when she and my husband were having a talk on the picnic bench by the trailer, I looked at the paperwork she’d just turned in, and wrote down the address.  I entered it into my GPS and drove there, putting an Ativan under my tongue at a stoplight and letting my cares and the core of my personality dissolve as the pill dissolved under my tongue and seeped into the parts of my body that contain both stress and hope.  I arrived at the building.  It was an apartment building that looked like it’d once been a boarding house; it was painted blue gray with darker blue gray trim and made me think of Jonah’s whale.  I kept as quiet as I could.  I walked around to the back of the building, and from an open window I heard one of my songs.  Desolation Row, Bob Dylan.  I'd always been perversely drawn to that song’s lyrics because they were so mocking towards the women in the narrative, “Ophelia, she’s ‘neath the window, for her I feel so afraid, on her twenty second birthday, already she is an old maid.”  Besides that lyric and something about Cinderella cagily observing the misery around her, I loved the music itself, and the hopelessness described in the lyrics.  The song ended and I heard the person inside the apartment jingle his keys.  I hid.  It was him.

For miles I followed him, and I don’t think he noticed.  We stopped at an Arco station, and a Ralph’s, for a 2-pack of paper towels and a loaf of what looked like wheat bread.  He dressed in this hip way, like an old fashioned greaser, sort of early Elvis.  I could see the outline of his penis through his tight black jeans.  We drove to an apartment building, where he went inside and stayed for three or four hours.  Through the filmy amber curtains that lightly rode the wind and hung about the windows like smog, these curtains that hung like ghosts from the windows of the room where he sat with two friends, I watched animated men punch prostitutes in the stomach and beat cops over the head with billy clubs; they were playing the video game Grand Theft Auto.  They were all three so amused and absorbed.  Once, an older women brought in a sandwich for the young man who was presumably her son, and he playfully slapped her butt when she walked away.  She quickly turned back to face him and swatted him with a dish towel she’d had in her other hand.  Everyone was smiling.

Later that night,I followed him down Sunset Boulevard, and then, I started to get a sinking feeling as I saw that he was parking to go into the bar I used to go to almost every night when I was younger, when I was young enough to enjoy having a thick trash bag taped to my car window.  I don’t like going places that remind me of the past.  I don’t like to remember how I used to be, before I turned over control of my psyche to my husband, before painful cramps doubled me over in pain and viscous bloody masses slid from my pussy into the toilet bowl and meant months of brave sad smiles.  I don’t like to remember how life was right after college when I didn’t yet know what person I would become.  But I followed him inside, and took a stool three stools down from where he sat chatting jovially with a pretty bartender.  This is how I learned what I’d lost, sitting there that night.  I lost a lot.  

Monday, October 14, 2013

More Treasures

This is an older treasure box, from my younger teens I think.  It's full to the brim so I won't bore you with its entire contents.

Pretty handkerchiefs, a change purse made out of a shell, a pretty box from those English Pastilles candies, a glass strawberry, the usual.

My favorite object from this panoply of sentimentality is a little notice in the employee's bulletin that Hudson's put out the day I was born.  My grandmother Hope worked there; it was once the largest department store in the world, and was definitely the primary shopping destination in Detroit, from 1911 to 1983.  The bulletin is dated March 17, 1979, and says "Hope Pulve of the YOung Guy Department is a happy new Grandma.  Granddaughter Robin Hope was born March 1st and weighed 8 lbs."  This is a special memento because I only met her once and was always very curious about her.

As you can see, this photo focuses on my compass, a wonderful piece in my priced shell collection, and some lovely marbles in quite the lovely wooden jewelry box.

xoxo Robin

Sunday, October 13, 2013

More Treasures

Today's excavation into my many treasure boxes I keep hidden away in a nondescript cardboard box is a look into this box here:

which my mom made me when I was a teenager.  I'm guessing I used it to keep treasures from the time I was 13 to maybe after college, since there's an old school photo in it of a good college friend.  the rest of this stuff is pure teen Robin though.

Here is the interior.  Stuck to the purple felt on the inside lid is 2 Rocky Horror pins and my ticket stub from when I saw Nirvana at the Forum, December 30, 1993.

Here is a piece of paper signed by all members of L7, plus Courtney Love.  A friend got it for me.  I don't know why I wasn't at that show.  It was probably on a school night and I was safe at home reading Weetzie Bat or watching The Simpsons.

Look at all these precious treasures.  I see:  3 of my public transit bus passes, my school ID, an antique match box full of my punk accessory safety pins, a ticket stub for The Crow, a couple school picture/booth photos, a acute card that says Princess (my long time nickname), a collector's care for Super Life" that says Cosmic Cowgirl on it and someone has put my face in it where the original Cosmic Cowgirl's face used to be, a roll of the elusive 2 dollar bill, 3 school-issued cards with my locker code on them (I have so many dreams where I go back to school and still remember my old locker code), a pin of a Robin I made at the downtown Children's Museum when I was a kid, and a matchbook from my favorite Hollywood Blvd Heavy Metal shop, back when Hollywood used to be all Heavy Metal, and not the mish mash of Coffee Bean and Forever 21 that is is now.

Let's see here. Here's a couple more school photos, a business card for a taxi, some cute keepsakes, w packages of The Crow collectors cards, a vintage card about how cool women are, and Kathleen Hanna's autograph.  of special note:  there was a concert at Castaic Lake I wasn't allowed to go to; it was Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., and Kurt Cobain made a surprise appearance -- ALL my friends went besides me.  One of my friends, the wild and deceased Peter, brought me back this empty packet of Custom .046 gauge strings.  He tucked this note inside:  "This was thrown into the audience by the singer for Mudhoney, after a mid song replacement at the castaic lake on 9/26/92.  on the bill:  Pavement, mudhoney, sonic youth."  There's also a note dated 10/9/95 that reads: 
"You were so sad.  You cried.  You wanted to hit someone but your bruises still ached and kept you blue inside.  Do you know what I mean."  It's very sweet, but I'm not sure who wrote it, because it's signed "Me," with a drawing of a bat underneath.  My favorite treasure among these treasures is a note I wrote to Santa, on a pad of Dilbert post-its:  "Dear Santa, I love you so much.  The only present I want is to ride with you ever Christmas.  You would not have to bring me any present except this.  Forever.  If you will just wake me up and say "santa is here."  I have been good.  Love forever, Robin".  Oh, I also included the helpful postscript "Dad's stocking is a boot.  My stocking is red."

Well, my laziness has now kicked in, which means I'm tired of cataloguing these treasures for now.  Here is a last overall look at this wonderful and bittersweet treasure box.

xoxo Robin