The cost of expression rises more every day.
6/1/2019 – Ground-breaker entry.
Poetry was a thing I did for awhile. Academically, even – though it’s odd to think of now. That’s what happens when you allow yourself to be tepidly borne along because you don’t have any better ideas. You do things, dutifully, and then one day you stop doing them and soon it’s as if they were done by someone else.
But somehow, there is this one fluke poem, apparently typed as an email to myself while in bed half-drunk and half-dozing on Wed., Nov. 1, 2017… and though I hardly remember writing it, I believe in it somehow. So I’ll break this space in with it.
An unattractive display of temper
He went and did that thing again
That reckless thing my father
and his father did
It makes him seem foreign
And stings like when I grazed my knuckle
with the plug from an unwieldy power cord
When I come back from the bathroom
I'm twelve feet tall
I clink my glass on a strange man's glass
Let a strange woman in trench and camellia
wrap me up like a present to herself
Stamp my heels on the floorboards
Sing like creatures of myth are crawling from my throat
And watch him shrink in the onslaught
A little boy worried his small errant step
could break the world
And the sickness he and I share
(but fend off most of the time)
lies and tells me I'm winning
when really both of us lost
6/1/2019 – Went ahead and saw Rocketman.
Despite being a novel thing they’re calling a “bio-fantasy,” it didn’t steer totally clear of rock biopic tropes, and it relied heavily on unnatural dialogue and run-of-the-mill musical numbers for storytelling. Still, I am glad I showed up to witness some of its darker moments, some of which were very effective, stylized explorations of self-loathing, bitter humor, and loneliness.
I was reminded how wrenching that descending musical phrase from “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” has always felt to me. I think I must’ve unwittingly absorbed it as a favorite early in life.
This stuck out:
“Maybe I should’ve tried being more ordinary.”
6/3/2019 – Something Amy Said
Watched Winehouse doc from 2015. Allegedly she once told a friend she’d give her voice back if it meant she’d be able to walk down the street without a hassle.
6/15/2019 – Sound of the Incubator
Listening to David Gilmour’s Remember That Night concert from 2010, I’m convinced those inflamed, soaring solos will never not strike me as the precise sound of growing up in the place and time I did. There are parts of rural VA that evoke the English countryside, the sprawling green spaces where Storm Thorgerson erected his incongruous monoliths. Across these spaces, in the dark of night, the turbulent, inventive minds of hungry adolescents spark at each other and craft intricate daydreams of their eventual climb up and out, which often never materializes.
Cloudless every day you fall
Upon my waking eyes
Inviting and inciting me to rise
And through the window in the wall
Come streaming in on sunlight wings
A million bright ambassadors of morning
And no one sings me lullabies
And no one makes me close my eyes
So I throw the windows wide
And call to you across the sky
6/16/2019 – On Contrapoints
Oh, Natalie Wynn. You’re so much diversity in one person. You enact dialogues that speak to my feverish ambivalence about almost everything, but you don’t let your internal chorus cripple you from being a bold actor in the world. You talk openly about the struggle of being appointed to represent many but aware of the reality that you can represent only yourself. You grapple with being pigeonholed by the one granule the media has decided makes the most seductive narrative. You remind me that artists and their audience are not friends, and that any thought to the contrary is perilously parasocial. And it follows that a content creator displaying vulnerability within such an arrangement is both foolhardy and precious.
In short, you fill me with even more rich musings on the trappings of high visibility than I would normally generate myself (and that’s saying a damn lot). Also, I hope you will forgive my saying that I parasocially love you a little bit.
6/17/2019 – This Guy’s Got Me Thinking How to Make A “Comeback”
Stumbled on Art d’ecco on KEXP. Joy Division + Gary Numan + Blondie + Roxy + Interpol + some other people I haven’t heard or can’t think of right now, in a Louise Brooks wig, say whaaaa?
And then he talks, and he’s laid-back and warm and concise, how lovely.
They’re calling this the debut, but I happen to know he took another crack at it some years ago. I have no idea what happened with that, but this is the reboot.
I really hope this guy gets the sizable cult following he deserves. Or maybe he has it and I just don’t know where to find it, who knows.
Anyway… when I think about him withdrawing into the Pacific Northwest to craft a mystique around himself, and I put that together with something Emily Haines said about experiencing a thing and making art from it immediately with no distance, I start to get rudimentary inklings about how to start making noise again as a more – mature – artist without sounding trite. Though as yet they’re just stirrings.
7/10/2019 – A Strange Thing My Brain Did
I have never seen 500 Days of Summer, but I am very used to hearing about how it is one of those M.P.D.G. movies where an impossibly agreeable and whimsical female is used as an instrument of growth for a male main character. Maybe that argument still has legs, but I stumbled across an alternative take tonight that was less dismissive. For the first time, I became aware that the movie might be viewed as a commentary on the pitfalls of idealizing a significant other.
This intrigued me, since I have both idealized people and been idealized by people to a ruinous degree.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment, but while watching this, aided by spirits and reflecting on past fiascoes, a certain refrain began to loop in my head, growing louder and clearer with each go-round.
It was, strangely, part of a Stephen Bishop song I probably first heard when I was in kindergarten and have neither heard nor thought of in upwards of twenty-five years. I pulled it up on YouTube and it struck me that it’s a) pretty melancholy for such a yachty song, and b) a lot for a little kid to think about. As well as solid storytelling.
Old man Jimmy sits alone in the moonlight
Saw his woman kiss another man
So he takes a ladder, steals the stars from the sky
Puts on Sinatra and starts to cry
On and on
I just keep on trying
And I smile when I feel like dying
On and on
On and on
On and on
7/10/2019 – “It Must Needs Be Remarked…”
…that this past Sunday, the 7th, was the day I remedied my shameful ignorance and learned how many of Those Iconic Photos were shot by the same person. And by that, I mean I watched Shot! The Psycho Spiritual Mantra of Rock.
I wish I could say that I came away with tips for the creative process, but what the doc was lacking, if anything, were critical perspectives on what exactly made Mick so successful. Methodizing the mojo, if you will.
I was able to discern that it apparently had something to do with energy vampirism, obsession, psychedelic drugs, and an ability to get people talking, but beyond that it’s a mystery.
Still – imagine being known for capturing the fundamental essences of people. Or, maybe more accurately, for understanding the exact image they were aiming to portray and reflecting it back to them in dazzling relief.
7/12/2019 – “We’re tra-a-ash, you and me”
One of my favorite websites belongs to a person I know in real life. It serves primarily as a writing portfolio, and it features an impressive catalog of arts and culture articles, including (per the bio) some eked out from a fount of pure self-discipline to keep her chops up in a period of unemployment. It’s clean and minimal with a few classy black and white photos. Browsing it feels like walking from room to room in a contemporary bed and breakfast, breathing crisp air and touching cool, neutral surfaces accented with bowls of succulents.
When I was in school, my living habits were atrocious. I never developed a substance problem – if you don’t count Ramen or subs from Sheetz. I saved papers till the eleventh hour so I could run on adrenaline, and this almost always resulted in some aspect of the learning experience getting short shrift. I hardly ever read the entirety of an assigned book or article. I’d fall down holes of thirstiness and loathing, and startle awake with my eyes locked on tremulous digital numbers I couldn’t place in time. I usually didn’t exercise, but didn’t gain much weight because my diet consisted of a single helping of junk a day.
As a very young child my entertainment tastes tended toward cheap drama. I snuck smut in the bread-and-magazine aisle of Super Fresh. I was arrested by the exaggerated sobs of Lifetime-style suffering when I walked by a room where an adult was watching TV. My solitary pretend-playing always involved kidnappings, domestic violence, teen pregnancy. From elementary school book fairs I chose paperbacks about kidney disease and steroid abuse.
Once my independent music palate developed, inspired by my crush on a young degenerate I chose (what else) slutty electronica and the peacock strut of glam. (Thoughts on glam and authenticity soon to come.)
And to this day, I have some kind of “should” voice about all this. What I should like. How I should conduct myself. But I see some of you thinkers and makers out there, usually a few years younger than me, creating thoughtful professional products that endow you with authority, and somehow this co-exists with your deprecating self-ID as that thing I’ve always felt like myself: “trash”. I’ve gotta let you know, you inspire me.
7/15/2019 – A Bit of the Old Churn and Burn
The past few days I’ve had ::suggestive pause:: thoughts. Things that are going to come out one way or the other… or maybe they’re all disparate points on the grid of one big thing, corners of a submerged land mass slowly heaving and groaning its way to the surface of my conscious. Things I want my music and art to explore because so few highly visible artists seem to be exploring them. Things I need more of in my life, so that the faintest taste of them is so piquant it makes my eyes tear.
I’ll get to them, little by little. I’ll juxtapose them, as I love to do, drawing little if any explicit connections, leaving the associative possibilities open.
I’ll just put this here to say goodnight, because I’m really into it right now, and I’m happy to let it give voice to everything I can’t seem to approach at the moment.
Tanya Donelly – The Shadow
Walk with me awhile
I’ve got something to say to you or ask you
I don’t know
It’s been a long day
If I decide to bring it all down
Will you stay and help me figure it out
Will you come into the shadow with me
Will you follow me under
8/15/2019 – A Series of Tantalizing Nudges
Fresh out of academia, I used to get real urges to write papers on various topics for fun. These days I get overwhelmed if I think about writing anything more than loose bullet points – basically doing the bare minimum to stick a pin in fleeting notions so they don’t completely vanish. Let the connections make themselves, or let witnesses make them.
This is going to be one of those bulleting sessions, fueled by the last bit of rye in this bottle. If tonight’s collected observations have anything in common, they are all things that have lately nudged me toward publicly making art again, rather than continuing to burrow in the safe and stifling cotton of daily routine.
-I landed on a World Cafe interview with T-Bone Burnett tonight. I didn’t hear it all, but the point of what I did hear was basically how he is known for helping others craft their messages but not for delivering his own – yet of late he is pumping out a steady stream of self-expression, which shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. He admitted that he has never been one who felt driven toward public performance, but that, at this point in his life, he has gathered a crap ton of knowledge that he feels obligated to impart before he “slips this mortal coil”. Now, I wouldn’t say I’m full to the brim with wisdom or anything, but I’m still hoping for a T-Bone Burnett moment, in terms of I’ve got a personal truth that needs to come out of me, and oh hey all of a sudden I know exactly how I’m gonna do that.
-I’ve been fixated on the topic of curated resale lately, but I haven’t mustered the gumption to start. A thrift store hobbyist since college, I have long enjoyed finding plunder in racks of junk and donning the mysterious scent of other people’s history. But I’ve never explored turning this interest into even the most peripheral of side hustles, and this has begun to haunt me. I have also been ruminating about the intangibles that impart perceived value to objects. There’s been interplay between these preoccupations, my previously expressed unabashed trashiness, and my affinity for folks like Alaska T.F. 5000 from Ru Paul’s Drag Race, who slayed making gowns out of garbage. This article on the Museo Della Merda also cropped up at an opportune moment: https://www.dezeen.com/2016/04/11/shit-evolution-museo-della-merda-shit-museum-milan-design-week-2016-locatelli-luca-cipelletti-gaspare-sustainable-design/
-Speaking of beauty in refuse, I finally got around to watching Grey Gardens (Jinkx Monsoon’s impression of Little Edie gets a lot of the credit for motivating me). I should probably devote a whole other entry to GG at some point, but for now it just feels important to place it alongside these other things. Also, I’ll note that, with GG already on my mind, I happened across a Youtube discussion – involving a pair that shall remain nameless due to how politically loaded their names are – the point being that I learned an Albert Maysles quote from it that will remain a go-to for me till the grave: “Tyranny is the deliberate removal of nuance”. If I could utter one phrase on a loop for the rest of my life, it would probably be that one.
-And, finally, another entry in the catalog of self-expression how-to’s, from the Wavelength interview of my man Art d’ecco. (His nod to the importance of aesthetic reminds me of things Natalie Wynn has said, and evokes my own considerations re: how to present independent music as well as resale merchandise.) An interesting look is important — all these aesthetic related things I was referring to before as the “value add” is just that cherry on top. If you have shit songs, no amount of window dressing will save you. But if you can somehow capture my ever-shortening attention span with a killer song, and combine that with a refreshing or compelling aesthetic — you’ve got me listening with all my senses.
2 a.m. on a worknight and I’ll just leave this here. G’night.
8/23/2019 – Not a GLOW Fanatic, But More Often Than Not, I Like it Quite A Bit
In S3E8, Debbie said this and it gave me some feels: “I want my life to get bigger, not smaller.”
Me and a zillion other people, I’m sure. But I haven’t always felt that way. In fact I have made obscurity a goal. I have worked at it like a champ. Who wants the responsibility, the relentless visibility, the constant threat of being “cancelled” for a clumsy fumble or drunken utterance (and yes, I do understand that not all such faux pas are created equal)? Life in the public eye has always been absurd, and technology now makes it more absurd than ever. So I don’t want… all that, exactly, but I do want something, need to do something more noteworthy, involved, enduring, passion-infused, than I currently am. Feh.
For now I’ll just digress and focus on how much I love it when the “pretty girl” is also a no-holds-barred, slightly terrifying oddling.
8/24/2019 – Wherein People’s Rage over Pitchfork’s Regard for Taylor Swift Appears Awfully Similar to People’s Rage over Vice’s Regard for the Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich
Using Instagram daily now; it’s a bit eye-opening.
Look, folks. Life is brief and largely shitty, and most of the time I try not to judge too harshly how people get their rocks off. That’s really all I want to say about that.
But I will put this quote here from Vice’s recent Popeye’s article (which you can read here: https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/8xwnm3/the-popeyes-chicken-sandwich-taste-test), ‘cos it seems to have broader implications, for me and the thematic obsessions I’ve been having:
“…because capitalism propagates the notion that expensive things must be worthwhile, that they’re rewards for smarts and hard work, we live in a world that sometimes struggles to unlink the pure, hedonistic pleasure we derive from items from their monetary values.”
Which reminds me… I have set myself a goal to list at least ten of my recently acquired resale items tomorrow on Poshmark with sexified pics while the domestic partner (heretofore D.P.) is working. Wish me luck.
And hey – did someone say, “pure, hedonistic pleasure”? Think Imma head over and watch the new Contrapoints vid.
9/5/2019 – Quick One.
Don’t have time for much tonight, but I wanted to put this Yvie Oddly quote here. (I think I’ve been feeling a particular affinity for her lately since I’ve had some weird autoimmune/inflammatory crap effing with me and have been trying to push through it in pursuit of creative endeavors – plus brainstorming ways to sell the wider world on my particular vision/aesthetic in resale, music, etc.)
“I’ve always had an attraction to bright colors and interesting fashion. My mom likes to tell me how when I was little, I would refer to people by their shirt colors, and how I was awestruck whenever I see people with dramatic or alternative senses of style. While I’ve grown to appreciate things that are traditionally ‘glamorous,’ I’ve always had an obsession with unusual and unique forms of expression because of the way they shock and intrigue.” -Status Mag interview
9/30/2019 – A Question of Time
As I try to exercise patience while hanging in a bit of personal limbo, awaiting an important piece of news, I console myself, as usual, with aesthetic. (Side note: Sauteeing peppers and onions has also seemed oddly relaxing lately.)
Priorities are very individual. I’m not saying everyone should value aesthetic as I do. I can only tell you that somehow, it makes me glad to be alive. It comforts me, gives me shots of confidence, makes me feel more capable than I otherwise would. It makes me feel downright festive for absolutely no reason as I bob on a banality ocean.
I was once with someone who felt disdain for the degree to which I prized aesthetic. Who had very strong opinions about the imbalance point of style versus substance. This person was a good person, but it took me a long time to realize how I was snuffing out a part of myself to be around them.
Given the other personalities that populate this, dare I say, blog, it was really only a matter of time before I happened upon Miss Violet Chachki. It’s Miss Chachki’s aesthetic that I have been particularly fond of lately.
As I write this, I am watching Beth Gibbons suck on a cigarette and be self-deprecating at the end of Roseland NYC. She looks like she can’t believe what she just pulled off.
Most of the time, I feel like Beth looks. Especially when, like recently, I muster the audacity to reach for something just beyond my realistic grasp. But something makes me reach anyway, despite my self-effacing nature, and it is all very uncomfortable for awhile. And this is where aesthetics like Violet’s come in.
They are Vantablack. Alpha. Precise. You can cut yourself looking at them. I don’t know who Violet really is, but what she gives me to look at make me stand up taller. If I absorb just a droplet from this inkwell, I halfway think I could get what I want – or at least totally handle not getting it.
(I should tie this all together by mentioning that, last evening, I was pleased to discover on YouTube the young millennial Violet doing aerial work to Portishead’s “All Mine”.)
10/25/2019 – Here’s to Kindertrauma
With Halloween approaching I thought I’d take a moment to recognize a favorite website of mine. I stumbled upon Uncle Lancifer and Aunt John’s horror film playground the better part of ten years ago at this point. I’m not even sure how I ended up there, but what grabbed me (other than the documented shout-out from Rob Zombie) was the richly textured, whip-smart diction, the sickening, often retro-licious scene captures, and the fact that the site encouraged a communal exploration of formative fears.
I’ve contributed a couple “Name That Trauma’s” (a feature in which users help each other source their spotty memories of disturbing media), but my most substantial contribution was this “Traumafession” that, surprise, surprise, focused more on existential horror than anything else:
I am still pleased as punch that they used it, and I appreciate Lancifer’s commiseration with my sensitive-child tendency to find awfulness in the mundane.
Tonight I was hyped to find that typing Looking for Mr. Goodbar, a non-horror movie that I nevertheless found very gutting, into the site’s search actually yielded a result, as I have found myself thinking about that movie lately and intending to write about it in some form. As usual, I found Lancifer’s insights spot-on. Not to mention that an extensive list of non-horror movie recommendations for horror fans came up as well, which is a just plain genius public service that they couldn’t have geared more toward me if they’d tried.
Think I might end up wearing my Kindertrauma t-shirt to the Mock Stars Ball tomorrow in place of my contemplated-but-never-materialized Little Edie costume.
Update: Did it!
Eff. 12/13/2019: See https://thesoldkingdom.com/author/soldkingdom/ for future musings