Categories
Music Nostalgia Rant

A Depressing Reinforcement Of An Already-Formed Opinion

Ever since I discovered them in the early 1990s with the release of Blood Sugar Sex Magik, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been among my favorite bands. I can attribute this largely, at this point, to the fact that Flea is a KICK-ASS bass player and nearly every bassline from BSSM and before is funky, head-boppin’, “woah, that’s tight,” good. The other half of this love affair is, or used to be, Anthony Kiedis’ lyrics and the rappish style in which he delivered them–now, unfortunately, he’s learned how to sing and forgotten how to write, both of which I find tragic. I read about half of his biography, and it seems that he thinks his newfound singing “ability” is a good thing–along with his newfound popularity, but I think quite the opposite. Any douchebag who can carry a tune can accomplish vocally what Kiedis is doing now. Not everyone, however, can write the lyrics he used to write (the pinnacle of which, in my opinion, was the entire Blood Sugar album), or deliver them in the hyperactive, overcaffeinated manner of early Kiedis–you could almost see him jumping up and down, head-banging to his own brilliance. Part of that, perhaps, was the ridiculous amount of illicit substances he was jamming into every available inlet of his body–they all were. Unfortunately, that seems to be the way with brilliant druggie musicians–either they die in a messy overdose/suicide/wreck at their peak or they mellow into mediocre family-friendly has-beens.

The other day a friend of mine asked me to make her a mix of Chili Peppers songs–she had never really gotten into them, she said, but she was curious because so many of her friends were crazy about them. I told her most of what I liked was their old stuff, which she said echoed her other friends’ sentiments, but when I sat down to make the mix today, I loaded all of the albums into my iTunes and listened to each song on the newer albums (By The Way and Californication–a friend’s sister absconded with Stadium Arcadium, a crime which would be unforgivable if it hadn’t been so disappointing) to try to find a few newer songs to add to the mix. I clicked and double-clicked, listening to the first few bars of each song before saying to myself, “Oh, that’s the trash I heard on the radio a few years back,” or “Yep, he’s definitely gone soft.” In the end, I came up with two songs to put on her mix that were from albums after Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and had it not been for the principle of across-the-board representation, they wouldn’t have made the cut.

The thing that’s so depressing about this reinforcement of my already-formed opinion about Kiedis’ creative decline is that Flea is still a kick-ass bass player, he just appears to be wasting his punk-funk talent on a bunch of pop songs intended for a group of people who will probably never know that Freaky Styley or Uplift Mofo ever existed. It’s almost like they themselves have forgotten where they started and who they were playing for, and it’s sad. They’re one of the few extremely talented bands of my youth who are still intact (physically–I mean ALIVE) and together, but they’re not. Aside from the catchy basslines, they’re a different band altoghether; one I don’t really want to listen to–ever. I’m a musically loyal person, and it breaks my heart to hear myself say that a band I’ve always loved has turned into pansy-ass commercial garbage. But there, I said it.

Categories
Insomnia Music

What I Am Looking For-Partially Updated

RYAN ADAMS: Any I Don’t Have
AEROSMITH: Pump; Permanent Vacation; Big Ones
ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND: Wipe The Window Check The Oil Dollar Gas; Eat A Peach; Brothers & Sisters
GREGG ALLMAN: I’m No Angel
TORI AMOS: Boys For Pele
FIONA APPLE: Tidal; When The Pawn…
JOAN ARMATRADING: Greatest Hits
BECK: Odelay
BLACKALICIOUS: Any/All
BLACK FLAG: Any
BLOODHOUND GANG: One Fierce Beer Coaster
BLUES TRAVELER: Any live album(s)
JOHNNY CASH: Live At Folsom Prison
NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS: Murder Ballads
CHEAP TRICK: Any
LEONARD COHEN: Any except Essential Leonard Cohen (I have it)
CONCRETE BLONDE: Bloodletting
CHRIS CORNELL: New Album (Don’t Know The Title)
DIRE STRAITS: Brothers In Arms
DOORS: Essential Rarities
DRESDEN DOLLS: Any
BOB DYLAN: Blonde On Blonde;
DR. DRE-The Chronic
FILTER: Short Bus
FLAMING LIPS: Any but Yoshimi
FUGEES: The Score
DAVID GILMOUR-
P.J. HARVEY-Any
ETTA JAMES: Any I Don’t Have
JANIS JOPLIN: Pearl
B.B. KING: Deuces Wild; 80; Live At Cook County Jail
LED ZEPPELIN: ZoSo (IV); Physical Graffiti; III
MACHINES OF LOVING GRACE: Any I Don’t Have
NINE INCH NAILS: Pretty Hate Machine
NIRVANA: In Utero
PARLIAMENT/GEORGE CLINTON: Any/All
PINK FLOYD: Animals; Wish You Were Here; Umma Gumma
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE: Any I Don’t Have
SEX PISTOLS: Any
STOOGES: All
SWITCHBLADE SYMPHONY-Bread And Jam For Frances; Switchblade Symphony
U2: Zooropa; Pop
VELVET UNDERGROUND: All
FRANK ZAPPA: Any I Don’t Have

Soundtracks:
10 Things I Hate About You
Forrest Gump
The Crow: City Of Angels

Comedy:
BILLY CRYSTAL: Any
DENIS LEARY: Lock N’ Load; No Cure For Cancer

Categories
Insomnia Music

What I’ve Got

AC/DC: Back In Black
BRYAN ADAMS: Waking Up The Neighbours
RYAN ADAMS: Gold; Heartbreaker
AEROSMITH: Get A Grip
ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND: At Fillmore East
TORI AMOS: Strange Little Girls; Little Earthquakes; Under The Pink
JANN ARDEN: Living Under June
LOUIS ARMSTRONG: All Time Greatest Hits
ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT: 3 Years 5 Months and 2 Days In The Life Of
ATMOSPHERE: Sevens Travels; God Loves Ugly; Lucy Ford; Headshots7; Overcast!; You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having
AUDIOSLAVE: Audioslave; Out Of Exile
BADFINGER: Very Best Of Badfinger
BUJU BANTON: Unchained Spirit
BARENAKED LADIES: Rock Spectacle; Stunt
BE GOOD TANYAS: Blue Horse
BEASTIE BOYS: License to Ill; Sounds Of Science
BEATLES: 1; Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
JEFF BECK: Wired
BECK: Midnite Vultures; Mellow Gold
BEEZLE: Beezle
BLACK CROWES: Amorica; Shake Your Money Maker
BLACK EYED PEAS: Elephunk
BLACK SABBATH: We Sold Our Soul For Rock N Roll
BLIND MELON: Blind Melon; Soup; Nico
BOBBY “BLUE” BLAND: Live On Beale Street
BLOODHOUND GANG: Hooray For Boobies
BLUEPRINT: 1988
BLUES TRAVELER: Live From The Fall (Disc 1 only)
BON JOVI: Cross Road
TRACY BONHAM: The Burdens Of Being Upright
EDIE BRICKELL & THE NEW BOHEMIANS: Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars
BRIGHT EYES: I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning
BUCKCHERRY: Buckcherry
JEFF BUCKLEY: Grace Legacy Ed. (2 CD); Mystery White Boy; Live At Sin-e; Sketches (For My Sweetheart The Drunk)
JEFF BUCKLEY & GARY LUCAS: Songs To No One 1991-1992
R.L. BURNSIDE: Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down
BUSH: Sixteen Stone
CAKE: Comfort Eagle; Fashion Nugget
GEORGE CARLIN: Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics
JOHNNY CASH: 16 Biggest Hits
TOMMY CASTRO BAND: Essential Tommy Castro
NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS: Best Of
TRACY CHAPMAN: Tracy Chapman; New Beginning
RAY CHARLES: Very Best Of
CHEMICAL BROTHERS: Come With Us
ERIC CLAPTON: Reptile; Unplugged; RUSH Soundtrack
TOM COCHRANE: Mad Mad World
DAVID ALLAN COE: 17 Greatest Hits; Live At Billy Bob’s Texas
LEONARD COHEN: Essential Leonard Cohen (2 Disc)
COLDPLAY: Parachutes; A Rush Of Blood To The Head
COMMON: Like Water For Chocolate
DANE COOK: Retaliation
ALICE COOPER: A Fistful Of Alice
COOPER TEMPLE CLAUSE: Kick Up The Fire & Let The Flames Break Loose
COUNTING CROWS: August & Everything After; Recovering The Satellites
CREED: My Own Prison; Human Clay
THE CURE: Disintegration; Wish; Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me; Wild Mood Swings
CYPRESS HILL: Black Sunday; III
DANZIG: Satan’s Child
MILES DAVIS: Kind Of Blue
THE DEADLIGHTS: The Deadlights
DECEMBERISTS: Picaresque
DEFTONES: White Pony
DEL AMITRI: Change Everything
DIRE STRAITS: Money For Nothing
THE DOORS: Waiting For The Sun; Morrison Hotel; Strange Days; The Doors; Best Of (2-Disc); The Soft Parade;
DR. DRE: 2001
HEATHER DUBY: Post To Wire
BOB DYLAN: Highway 61 Revisited; Essential Bob Dylan (2-Disc); Blood On The Tracks; New York Sessions; “Hard To Find” compilation mix
EAGLE EYE CHERRY: Desireless
EMINEM: The Slim Shady LP; Encore
EVERCLEAR: Songs From An American Movie
EYEDEA & ABILITIES: First Born
BELA FLECK & THE FLECKTONES: Outbound (Borders Promo)
FLAMING LIPS: Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
FLEETWOOD MAC: The Dance
BEN FOLDS FIVE: Whatever And Ever Amen
FOO FIGHTERS: One By One; There Is Nothing Left To Lose
SAGE FRANCIS: Still Sickly Business
ARETHA FRANKLIN: Best Of-1970s
FUGAZI: Steady Diet Of Nothing; 13 Songs; Red Medicine; Repeater; In On The Kill Taker
MARVIN GAYE: Millenium Collection Very Best Of Vol. 2 (70s)
GODSMACK: Godsmack
GRATEFUL DEAD: Workingman’s Dead
DAVID GRAY: White Ladder; Life In Slow Motion
GREEN DAY: International Super Hits!
GUNS N’ ROSES: Appetite For Destruction; GNR Lies; Use Your Illusion I & II; The Spaghetti Incident; Live Era ’87-’93
BUDDY GUY: Sweet Tea
MERLE HAGGARD: Live At Billy Bob’s Texas
BEN HARPER & THE INNOCENT CRIMINALS: Live From Mars
TAYLOR HAWKINS & THE COATTAIL RIDERS: Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders
HELMET: Meantime
JIMI HENDRIX: Experience Hendrix; Electric Ladyland; Blues; Ultimate Experience
HOLE: Live Through This
ICE CUBE: Greatest Hits
IDLEWILD: 100 Broken Windows
CHRIS ISAAK: Heart Shaped World
ISRAEL VIBRATION: Best Of
ETTA JAMES: At Last
JANE’S ADDICTION: Strays; Nothing’s Shocking; Ritual De Lo Habitual
BEN JELEN: Give It All Away
WAYLON JENNINGS: Greatest Hits
THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN: Hate Rock N’ Roll
JET: Get Born
JEWEL: This Way
ELTON JOHN: Greatest Hits Vol. II
JACK JOHNSON: Brushfire Fairytales; On And On; In Between Dreams
NORAH JONES: Come Away With Me
JANIS JOPLIN: Greatest Hits; I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!
JURASSIC 5: Quality Control
ALICIA KEYS: Songs In A Minor; Unplugged; The Diary Of Alicia Keys
RILO KILEY: Takeoffs & Landings-The Execution Of All Things
B.B. KING: Live At The Apollo; Greatest Hits; Indianola Mississippi Seeds; Live At San Quentin
B.B. KING & ERIC CLAPTON: Riding With The King
KISS: Dressed To Kill
LENNY KRAVITZ: Greatest Hits
JONNY LANG: Long Time Coming; Wander This World; Lie To Me; Smokin’; Turn Around
LED ZEPPELIN: Best Of (2 CD-Early Days; Latter Days); Coda; II
TOM LEHRER: Songs & More Songs
LEMONHEADS: It’s A Shame About Ray
LETTERS TO CLEO: Aurora Gory Alice
LIVE: Throwing Copper; Secret Samadhi
G. LOVE: The Hustle
G. LOVE & SPECIAL SAUCE: G. Love & Special Sauce; Philadelphonic; Yeah, It’s That Easy
TOM MABE: Reveng On The Telemarketers
MACHINES OF LOVING GRACE: Gilt
MADONNA: Music
BOB MARLEY (& THE WAILERS): Legend; Rock To The Rock Live; Exodus
ZIGGY MARLEY & THE MELODY MAKERS: Best Of; Free Like We Want 2 B
MAROON 5: Songs About Jane
MATCHBOX 20: Yourself Or Someone Like You
DAVE MATTHEWS BAND: Before These Crowded Streets; Crash; Busted Stuff; Stand Up;
JOHN MAYER: Room For Squares; Heavier Things
JOHN MAYER TRIO: Try!
BRUCE MCCABE: Bruce McCabe
SARAH MCLACHLAN: Surfacing
METALLICA: Master Of Puppets; Ride The Lightning; And Justice For All; Black Album
STEVE MILLER BAND: Greatest Hits 1974-78
MINISTRY: Greatest Fits
MISFITS: Walk Among Us
BIG BILL MORGANFELD: Ramblin Mind
VAN MORRISON: Best Of
MOS DEF: Black On Both Sides; The New Danger
MOTHER LOVE BONE: Mother Love Bone
MUDHONEY: March To Fuzz
SHAWN MULLINS: Beneath The Velvet Sun
NINE INCH NAILS: The Downward Spiral
NIRVANA: Bleach; Nevermind; Incesticide; MTV Unplugged in NY
NOTORIOUS B.I.G.: Ready To Die
OFFSHORE CYCLE BAND: New World Odor
OLD 97s: Fight Songs; Too Far To Care
OZZY OSBOURNE: No More Tears; Live & Loud (2 CD)
OUTKAST: The Love Below
PANTERA: Best Of
PAVEMENT: Wowee Zowee; Slanted (Redux)
PEARL JAM: Ten; Yield; No Code; Binaural; Lost Dogs; Vs.; Vitalogy
TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS: Wildflowers; Greatest Hits
LIZ PHAIR: Supernova
KELLY JOE PHELPS: Shine Eyed Mister Zen
PHISH: A Live One (2 CD); Rift
PINK FLOYD: The Division Bell; The Wall; Meddle; Echoes; Pulse (Disc 1 Only); Dark Side Of The Moon
PIXIES: Doolittle; Trompe Le Monde
ROBERT PLANT: Manic Nirvana
IGGY POP: A Million In Prizes (Compilation-2 Disc)
GRACE POTTER: Original Soul
LOUIS PRIMA: Capitol Collection
PRIMUS: Antipop
THE PRODIGY: Music For The Jilted Generation
PUBLIC ENEMY: Yo! Bum Rush The Show
QUEEN: Classic Queen
RADIOHEAD: Pablo Honey; OK Computer; Hail To The Thief
CORINNE BAILEY RAE: Corinne Bailey Rae
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE: Rage Against The Machine
RAMONES: Ramones
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS: Blood Sugar Sex Magik; What Hits?!; By The Way; Californication; Mother’s Milk
LOU REED: NYC Man (2 CD Compilation)
REEL BIG FISH: Cheer Up
REVEREND HORTON HEAT: Lucky 7
DAMIEN RICE: O; 9; B-Sides
RJD2: Deadringer
ROLLING STONES: Hot Rocks (2 CD Compilation); Beggars Banquet; 40 Licks; England’s Newest Hitmakers; Stripped
ROLLINS BAND: Come In And Burn; Weight
ROOTS: Phrenology
COLIN RUEL: Home In This World
RUSTED ROOT: Welcome To My Party
MATTHEW RYAN: May Day; Regret Over The Wires; East Autumn Grin
SCREAMING TREES: Dust
SEVEN MARY THREE: American Standard
SHAGGY: Hotshot
KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD BAND: Live On; Ledbetter Heights
SISTER HAZEL: Somewhere More Familiar
SKID ROW: Skid Row
SLASH’S SNAKEPIT: Ain’t Life Grand
SMASHING PUMPKINS: Siamese Dream
SOCIAL DISTORTION: Live @ The Roxy; Social Distortion; Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell
SONIC YOUTH: A Thousand Leaves
SOUL ASYLUM: Let Your Dim Light Shine; Grave Dancers Union
SOUNDGARDEN: Badmotorfinger; Louder Than Love; Superunknown; Down On The Upside
SPIN DOCTORS: Pocket Full Of Kryptonite
SPOON: Gimme Fiction
STING: Ten Summoner’s Tales
STONE TEMPLE PILOTS: Purple
IZZY STRADLIN: 117 Degrees
STROKE 9: Nasty Little Thoughts
THE STROKES: Is This It?
SUBLIME: Best Of-Millenium Collection
JAMES TAYLOR: Greatest Hits
TEGAN AND SARA: So Jealous
TEMPLE OF THE DOG: Temple Of The Dog
THE THRILLS: So Much For The City; Let’s Bottle Bohemia
THROTTLE: Transporter
TOOL: 10,000 Days
TOOTS & THE MAYTALS: True Love
TRAIN: Drops Of Jupiter
U2: Achtung Baby; The Unforgettable Fire; How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb; Rattle And Hum; All That You Can’t Leave Behind; Boy
UNCLE KRACKER: Double Wide
THE UNINVITED: Artificial Hip
STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN: Blues At Sunrise
SUZANNE VEGA: Solitude Standing
JULIAN VELARD: The Movies Without You
VELVET REVOLVER: Contraband
THE VERVE: Urban Hymns
THE VERVE PIPE: Villains
VIOLENT FEMMES: Violent Femmes
NINA VIOLET & THE INVISIBLE ORCHESTRA: Nina Violet & The Invisible Orchestra
TOM WAITS: Blue Valentine; Early Years (2 Disc); Alice; Blood Money; Mule Variations; Franks Wild Years; Closing Time
MUDDY WATERS: Hoochie Coochie Man
ROGER WATERS: Amused To Death
WEEZER: Weezer
WHITE STRIPES: White Stripes; Elephant: White Blood Cells
WILCO: Summerteeth
WOLFMOTHER: Wolfmother
FRANK ZAPPA: Cheap Thrills; Shiek Yerbouti; Lather (3 CD); Joe’s Garage (2 CD); Thing Fish (2 CD)
Z.Z. TOP: Best Of

SOUNDTRACKS
A Broke Down Melody
Bend It Like Beckham
Blues Brothers
City Of Angels
The Crow
Dazed And Confused
Dirty Dancing
Dogtown & Z-Boys
Faraway So Close
I-10 Chronicles
If These Walls Could Talk 2
Lost Highway
Midnight In The Garden Of Good & Evil
No Boundaries (Concert Compilation)
Pretty Woman
Reality Bites
Rush
Saturday Night Fever
The September Sessions
Stand By Me
Thicker Than Water

Categories
Music

CD Exchange

Hi Y’all–Hopefully this will attract some strangers, too, as I currently have a total of 3 readers…

I would like to propose an exchange of music, via the archaic method of sending CDs through the mail. I have approximately 500 CDs, but there are plenty that I want and don’t have, and I’m sure there’s something I’ve got that you want! I will be posting 2 lists in the next day or two–What I’ve Got and What I Want. I am, of course, open to things I don’t have listed on the What I Want list, as that list is always changing (and completely dependent on what comes to mind).

Any takers, comment here or email me at cirque79@gmail.com. If I don’t know you, to ensure as little wasted postage as possible, I’d suggest a 2-for-2 exchange to start off with.

S.

Categories
Faraway Places Government People Think

A Break From Narcissism, And Humor.

Absolutely apalling.

Categories
Blather Insomnia Observations Pointless Narcissism Rant

Note To Self

And Anyone Else Prone To Arbitrary And Pointless Bouts Of Idiocy:

Drinking alone is never a good idea, particularly when you start with a sugary frozen Margarita at half-past five in the evening, middle with gin, then Budweiser, and finish off with Boddington’s from a can, sitting on your front stoop and watching the sun rise at half-past five in the morning. For no damn reason at all.

There is the pointless waste of time to consider, not to mention the waste of money, the aspect of loneliness that accompanies finding oneself intoxicated with no one to make laugh or to laugh at, the hangover, the wasted day off. There is the embarrassment of admitting to friends why exactly it is that you’ve just arisen at three-thirty in the afternoon and why you’re wearing sunglasses inside: “Well, I, uh…nevermind.” There is the feeling that such remarkable stupidity and instantly regrettable self-indulgence would be far easier to rationalize had you been depressed, anxious, or any of the other emotional conditions which seem to permit the consumption of the better part of a twelve-pack in complete solitude. There is the fact that you feel like this sort of foolishness ought to at least have produced some profound personal release–tears, things thrown or broken, drunk-dialing. But it hasn’t. Because you did it for no reason, and nobody cares, not even you. Particularly not strangers reading a blog. If you’d gone and slept with someone you didn’t know, or hurled yourself through a window because you thought you were invincible, or gotten arrested for running around in the street with no pants on or yelling obscenities out the window of a moving vehicle, maybe they’d care. But you didn’t. Because you were sitting in front of a computer in your boring bedroom, watching downloaded episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, which you happen to think is rather contrived and insipid.

Categories
Blather Observations People Rant School

The Bleeding Foot Liberal Speaks (About Shit That Actually Matters).

This afternoon while I was supposed to be paying attention in class, I was instead reading an essay called “I Went To College And All I Got Was This White Trash T-Shirt,” by Kat Marie Yoas. In the essay, Yoas discusses having grown up poor, in a trailer park, her mother struggling just to keep the place inhabitable without any outside help. Yoas herself is the first in her family to attend college, and when she gets there, she begins to take feminist classes. After a while, however, she realizes that the feminism she is learning in college is not an ethic that relates to her own life–it is the feminism of upper-middle class white women, where Yoas herself has come from, in the eyes of her classmates, “white trash” stock.

The entire essay was thought-provoking and relatable: I grew up in a very affluent community, where most of my peers had the latest fashions, played sports and lived in nice houses with hardwood floors and golden retrievers or black labs in their yards. Their parents went to PTA meetings and showed up for every parent-teacher conference. Their parents went as chaperones on field trips. When the girls started going to dances, their mothers would help them to pick out dresses that would not only not get them made fun of, but would actually look good. They had Nintendo, Sega, computers, huge trampolines in their back yards. I had a hand-me-down Walkman my mother had given me (the real thing–it was metal) and my back yard was full of other people’s boats, as I lived in a tiny, soulless cottage that belonged to a boat yard. My father didn’t chaperone or go to PTA or parent-teacher conferences because he worked sixteen hours a day at a back-breaking job to support us. He didn’t even have his own bedroom–his bed was positioned against one wall in the living room, and I had the only bedroom in the cottage.

In her essay, Yoas mentions being dropped off at home by her friends’ parents, and the pitying looks that she would receive from them: “Kathleen, your house is very clean on the inside. Very…well…put…together?” I could immediately identify with her sense of embarrassment and hurt–as a child in or on the brink of poverty, living among people who are far more affluent than you are, you are absolutely conscious of your own other-ness. I remember some of my friends’ first visits to my house, the curiosity and judgment on their faces when they saw my father’s bed in the living room, the hideous and threadbare couch, the nail driven deep into the fake-wood paneling on which he hung his coat. Added to this other-ness was something else: I was the “girl whose mother died.” I was looked after by a number of women who had my best interest at heart, and helped me through a very difficult time, but it was in no way the same as what other girls had. I envied the constancy that they had–of always having a woman around to ask the difficult questions, to seek comfort in, to do “girl” things with. My women were at the end of a telephone line–sometimes they answered, sometimes they didn’t (though when they did answer, they were all wonderfully understanding and patient). After a while, I felt guilty for calling, as if I were bothering them too much, or trying to call too much attention to myself.

Yoas, between anecdotes about her childhood and touching stories which convey the indomitable strength of her mother, relates her college experience with candor and honesty:

“I was so lost in the theoretical language that I had begun to see my family as the enemy. Academic language defined resistance as: using big words to name oppressions, attending protests, and creating change by moving on and up in the world–taking on the patriarchy in a big way. My family did none of these things. I mean, if there were ways to counter oppression and hegemony, why was it that my family just stayed in the same town doing the same jobs, with the same low economic and social standing?”

I remember hearing my father rant during one particularly ugly part of my adolescence when I had been taken away from him and put into foster care, largely due to a misunderstanding between him and me that had been blown way out of proportion. He complained that the system refused to take him seriously, that they were “out to get him,” untrusting of a single father raising a teenage daughter. At the time, I told him that was ridiculous, that they were not out to get him at all, it was just a complicated process and he was projecting his own distaste for bureaucratic agents on them. Gradually, however, I begun to realize that I was being kept in a system that I had no need for (and that could be far more beneficial to someone else who was in need)–I was not in any physical danger, nor was I about to go without food, clothing or shelter, despite our precarious financial situation–for reasons I could not identify. There were supervision issues, and the house was a mess, but then and even now, I don’t see the problems that were present as reasons enough to take me out of my home, out of my community entirely (the foster homes where I lived were full, so I was shipped away), treated as though, like the majority of other female teenage foster children, I was a high drug, pregnancy, crime and runaway risk. In retrospect I see the problem of the system not as one of sexism against men, but as classism against the struggling working-class. In the opinions of the social workers, I would be much better off in a clean, supervised, middle-class household than I would be with my own father. In the beginning, the situation was more complicated than that, but as it drew on, I realized that what I viewed as my “incarceration” would last indefinitely if the social workers had their way.

Subconsciously, in early high school I gravitated towards friends who were among the same socioeconomic class as me (what some would consider “white trash”). One friend, who lived down the street from where I’d once lived with my mother, lived in a tiny mint-green house–a glorified trailer, really–with ugly shag carpeting. My friend lived in a teeny-tiny dungeon of a bedroom. Her younger brother slept on the couch, and her mother had the other tiny bedroom. In retrospect I realize it was this friend’s house in which I was the most comfortable–though she had cable TV, which my father would never pay for, she was pretty much like me. She had a small family that was scraping by with the best they could muster, but they loved each other. She taught me about music all through my adolescence, bringing me into her dark little room and playing bands and artists I’d never heard of, music that was nothing like the superficial pop that was on the radio. Her mother was a single parent of two children and worked her ass off to barely support them, but every time I happened to be there at dinner time, there was a plate made up for me, and at one point during difficult times with my father, my friend’s mother offered that if I needed a place to live I could live with them.

Perhaps the most poignant point in Yoas’s essay is when she addresses the current trend for mocking “white trash” or “redneck” everything:

The terms “white trash” and “trailer trash” cut and affect me in a way that academic-speak never could. Yet, right now we are at the height of commodifying working-class and trailer park culture. I can’t go anywhere without seeing fucked-up depictions of my home and people. There are the mesh trucker caps and the trendy ironic T-shirts that say MAKE MINE A DOUBLE with a drawing of a double-wide trailer on the front. She goes on to mention the “hipster-queer subculture co-opting of working poor culture” which anger her, including invitations to “white trash” and “redneck” themed parties.

After reading this, I realized that I hadn’t taken offense to this ridiculous fashion statement–I’d just thought it was silly and would run its course. But Yoas mentions the blue mechanics’ work shirts which have become trendy, with oval-shaped name patches saying “Mike,” or “Bob.” My father did not wear one of these, as he either worked for himself or for people who did not enforce uniforms, but he did the sort of work where these uniforms are common. I have friends who do wear the “grease-monkey” uniforms, not for show, but because that is how they make their living.

After reading Yoas’s essay, I found myself becoming more angry, more conscious of my “other-ness” within the peer structure at the college I attend, much like Yoas found at hers. I am not studying feminism, as I abandoned any pursuit of it years ago, having been driven off by overly bitter lesbian man-haters and overly idealistic hippie-chicks with no grip on reality. Oddly, the best feminists I know are men. Go figure. But I digress. So I am not studying feminism or Women’s Studies, I am studying writing, at a prestigious college in Boston largely populated by middle- to upper-middle-class kids just out of high school. My school’s financial aid policy alone dictates how many students finance their own educations there: “For the purposes of financial aid determination, all undergraduate students are considered Dependent, regardless of age (paraphrased).” For this reason, I had to fight for three months with the school’s bureaucracy to get them to consider me an independent student; at the time I was twenty-five and had been supporting myself since the age of seventeen. I am the oldest student I have come across in any of my daytime classes (the night classes, called “Professional Studies,” have more of a diversity regarding age). Not only do I feel separated from my classmates by age (I listen to Guns N’ Roses because that’s what was popular when I was a young teenager; they wear Guns N’ Roses T-shirts for the same reason they wear mesh trucker hats), but by socioeconomic class as well. Though there are certainly Emerson students from disadvantaged backgrounds, the majority of students are a homogenous mass of trendy, fake-rebellious, privileged middle class kids who are still living off of their parents’ dime. Their reality growing up was completely different from mine, even more than the kids I went to elementary school with. These are kids a generation behind, who have been coddled by their parents, raised on commodity culture (instead of back yards and the woods), video games and Paris Hilton (though they’d never admit it), whose closest brush with dire straits has most likely been running out of money to buy (trendy) PBR beer on a Friday night. They are perfectly-coiffed (this includes the guys), perfectly made-up, with their wardrobes perfectly concocted to demonstrate how (ironically) white-trash or hair-rock or 80s they are (not). Their mothers were never house-cleaners, or blacksmiths (both of which my mother did) or waitresses past college. Their fathers were not truck drivers, welders, masons, fishermen.

One student in my Personal Essay class, an exception to my above generalization for sure, wrote in her essay about being envious of her peers because they got to go to Disney World with their families on vacation, and she and her family didn’t, because her father was a cook and her mother worked in a billing office and they couldn’t afford it. I’ve never been either, I wanted to say, though my desire to visit Disney probably expired when this girl was in first grade. It is an identification thing–“I know what you mean.” Every year growing up, I watched my classmates come back from Florida and the Bahamas, tan, having spent their vacations lounging on the beach while I shoveled snow or watched fuzz on the black-and-white TV in my living room.

I have been trying to figure out for a long time–since I got to this school, and perhaps before–why it is that I feel such contempt for the superficial culture of the generation behind me and indeed the generation itself. After having read Yoas’s essay, I realize it is perhaps because they take such pleasure in making fun of people they do not understand, cannot understand. The world is there for their entertainment and ridicule, and they don’t recognize those who are being lampooned as even being people at all.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not the shiny-happy-people, love everybody blog. I am not saying that making fun of people is wrong–I do it all the time (mostly I make fun of myself–half the time I see these kids, I want to tell them that I dressed like a trucker in high school a decade before it was cool, and completely unintentionally). What I’m saying is that there’s a trend among the younger generations to mock American working-class culture–mechanics, truckers, etc.–which comes from total absorption in media culture and complete ignorance of what it’s like to do without–and it pisses me off, because they just don’t get it.

**Incidentally, I have just gotten drunk by myself off of Budweiser “pounders,” while listening to Appetite For Destruction on repeat. And I stepped on a piece of glass about half an hour ago and, have unwittingly been bleeding rather profusely for some time.**

Categories
Blather Insomnia Music Pointless Narcissism Rant School

This Is What I Do When I’m Procrastinating Something Big

I am not a neurotic person. I’m a bit of a slob, really, and a world-class procrastinator. While my room is not filthy in any sense–there are no vermin anywhere, nor will there be–it is certainly not what one would call neat. My person is relatively the same–while I am never dirty, I am not generally very well put-together, so to speak. I have the wardrobe of a fourteen year old boy, and about as much of a clue regarding what goes with what. I wear frumpy shoes that don’t go with anything, I don’t blow-dry my hair, my bag is ugly and matches nothing that I own, and the most fashionable item of attire that I own is a pair of red-brown Frye motorcycle boots, which I wear with everything, whether or not it looks good.

That said, there is one area in which I am neurotic: my music collection. I have somewhere around 500 CDs and counting, and while the rest of my room, life and self are usually in a complete shambles, my CDs are always arranged neatly, in alphabetical order, in a self-contained custom-built CD rack/trunk which I designed and my father built (this nifty device, while excruciatingly heavy when full, saves me the time of re-organizing my CDs when I move). Also, though I do not back up my writing or anything truly important with any regularity, I musthave hard copies of my music, which means that every time I rip a CD from a friend or coworker, I burn it onto CD as soon as I have the chance. Partly this is paranoia (if I got it for free this time, and my hard drive or iPod crashes, how will I replace it?), partly it is the all-American sense of I want more, partly it is that my stereo is currently without iPod adaptation and my computer without good speakers, but mostly it’s that when I don’t know what I want to listen to, I like to squat in front of my beloved CD rack and browse, like one would in a record store. When I do this, I come across things I haven’t listened to in years, or on occasion, ever. Sometimes I go to the rack with a purpose, sometimes I close my eyes and pick blindly and force myself to listen to whatever I grab, even if I don’t think I’m in the mood for it. If I hadn’t bought my first record player only six months ago, maybe they’d all be vinyl. Someday…

So my point, which I’ve procrastinated almost as badly as I’m procrastinating the aforementioned “something big,” is that ever since I bought my new computer three weeks ago, I’ve been in a perpetual state of organization regarding my one neurosis. First, there is the ripping of music into the new computer (I switched from PC to Mac, wiped the iPod, etc.). Second, I’ve brought my computer to work three or four times in the past couple of weeks and while the restaurant was slow, I ripped everything in the building that I had even a remote interest in onto my hard drive (the old comp. was a beast, and I’m gluttonously reveling in the new one’s prowess)–which, of course, means I have a lot of CDs to burn myself, 30+ to be specific. Once I’ve burned everything onto “hard copy,” I must re-order my rack, putting all the recently-ripped CDs back where they belong and finding places for the new ones, which will certainly necessitate the shuffling of CDs from shelf to shelf to make space. Zappa will have to join the soundtracks on the bottom shelf of the right side; Atmosphere will have to make room for Tori Amos on the top shelf of the left side.

So what’s my point, you ask? Why have I chosen to share all of this self-indulgent nonsense with you?

Because the one thing I’m neurotic about is not in order. And it bothers me. Particularly since it won’t be in order again until I’ve ripped all of my CDs into the new computer (I’m at “S,” going backwards from “Z”), which won’t be for weeks yet.

Oh, and I have a ten-page paper due in two days, which I haven’t even started, and I’m having lunch with my father tomorrow, after which I’ll surely take at least a two-hour nap (he’s an exhausting fellow, I get it from him). Despite my best (half-assed) intentions at academic diligence, I will undoubtedly see the wrong side of dawn on Tuesday… again.

Categories
Blather Insomnia Observations People Pointless Narcissism

How You Can Tell That I Sleep Alone

Contents Of My Bed (As noted at four in the morning before I climbed into it):

-18 copies of my most recently critiqued essay
-April credit card bill
-Heavily highlighted copy of Irvine Welsh’s Marabou Stork Nightmares
-Large one-eyed stuffed dog which has been across the country at least seven times, via plane, train and automobile
-HUGE pillow, pilfered from the couch weeks ago to use as a backrest while reading
-Highlighted copy of Latin Phrases & Quotations
-Old cell phone, unactivated, used as an alarm clock
-Slightly destroyed copy of Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love
-20 degree-rated sleeping bag that squooshes down to be the size of a loaf of bread
-Person-sized dent, roughly in the shape of me

Categories
Insomnia Music

Top 10 Songs To Listen To At Four In The Morning. This Time.

Eric Clapton: Alberta
B.B. King: Hummingbird
Jeff Buckley: Lover, You Should’ve Come Over
Del Amitri: Be My Downfall
U2: Tryin’ To Throw Your Arms Around The World
Matthew Ryan: Irrelevant
Nirvana: Oh Me (Unplugged version)
Pearl Jam: Release
Johnny Cash: Sunday Morning Coming Down
Jack Johnson: Moonshine