Sunday, September 30, 2007

Not Waving, But Drowning

go see:

Not Waving, But Drowning

Wednesday, 10/03/07
playing live at The Livingroom, on Ludlow between Stanton and Rivington in the Lower East Side

since Mason won't contribute the the written content of the blog anymore (and he was always the better writer anyway) I feel perhaps I should alert the world to what has him too distracted to write. He hasn't stopped writing, he's just focusing on music. His band, Not Waving, But Drowning, will be playing this week at the Livingroom in the LES. I want to go, but since I am only in town for a short time and asked nicely for he and his partners in musical evil to have a show while I am in town, Mason scheduled the show for the day after I leave for a wedding in Puerto Rico.

Despite his obvious bent toward evil, you should go and bask in the beautiful tunes he and Pinkie, etc. pull out of the air. I'm listening to them practice as I write this; this is not a show to miss.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Awareness is panic

If you know me in person, you know that I am not known for my fear of social situations. I find awkward situations exhilerating and strangers have never scared or intimidated me. I can normally handle crowds or being alone with easy and poise and roll with the punches without missing a beat.

Sometimes I can't.

Perhaps being too telling (but isn't that the point of having a blog?), in college I was wracked with pretty severe panic attacks. I was diagnosed as obsessive-compulsive (I refuse to tack the clinical "disorder" on the end) and told I was suffering from fairly severe anxiety and depression. I briefly tried the medicinal route with adderol and quickly decided it wasn't for me as it seemed to do nothing but obliterate my memory (I have had trouble remembering names ever since) and keep me awake and sort of numb. I saved the left-over pills for when I had to drive long distances as this was the only time that its affects seemed remotely helpful.

Therapy and supportive friends and changing attitude and world view ended up let me get a successful grip on it all and not drop out of school as I had almost done, and these days I sail on a pretty even keel. I have the occasional waves of anxiety, but I've learned to let them rush over me without hijacking my mind and the compulsions I can play with now instead of them being a terror or slowing me down.

But not last night.

I don't know what set it off, but I was having one of those nights where I felt like I couldn't find anywhere that I was supposed to be. I went to the Phoenix to meet some friends, but I was getting there late and they were on their way out as I got there. This is not a thing which bothers me: I know plenty of people in that bar and even if I didn't I don't mind meeting new people or just having a beer by myself and taking it all in. Normally this it true at least. The bar was packed and cute and had a fun vibe, but all of a sudden I felt like I was a thousand miles away and would never get back any closer to anything. At least when I'm on a boat a million mile away I can tell myself that when I get back to land my friends and familiar places will be there and it is just the solitude and distance getting me down, but when you feel this way with your friends around and in one of the most familiar comfortable places you know, there is nothing left to reassure you. Where do you go? Who can pull you back? There is no shore to shoot for or at least you end up filled with terror that upon heading for a different one that you would just find the crowded solitude there.

Of course panic attacks aren't so lucid. You are somewhere, the crowd is suddenly separated from you and any attempts to interact leave you feeling further separated and at the same time unable to escape as it smothers you and you feel like it has alway been smothering you and always will.

Which isn't true.

I haven't always been smothered. And I won't always be. I love and embrace the world and all the insanity within it.

Catcher In the Rye and Sartre's Nausea give perhaps the most vivid descriptions of panic attacks that I have read. Catcher's protagonist is unaware of what is happening to him other than the world around him being overwhelming while Nausea's is painfully lucid as he stares straight at the unravelling he is experiences. Both are finding themselves forced to deal with overwhelming awaress of being both intimately and inextricably interconnected to everything around them while at the same time feeling entirely disconnected as everything becomes pixelated and atomized. Finding the poles and opposites that let us navigate through the world and believe in direction suddenly smeared into one another and rendered useless for orientation leaves one feeling vertiginous but without even that reassuring knowledge that at least if you go over a ledge you will fall down. This is the attraction of heights and plunges, both literal and figurative: when you can't find any other direction, you can usually still find 'down' and if you hit bottom you know that the other way is up.

Sarte's titular nausea was that step beyond, where even falling loses its direction and it is all swirl and blur and tramatic lucidity at the same time. Such was my blur last night. All the directions disappeared and I had to follow exit signs out into the street and try to pull my mind back together so I could maintain some semblence of togetherness.

Partially because I lacked the coordination to follow through with it but mostly because of a fear that I might spread my void, I didn't let myself call Canada but called Mason, who has seen me at my worst and would know not to really worry if I call freaked out of my mind. So he was my sounding board as I learned to speak again, finding voice and reminding myself how to divide sounds out of the omnipresent roar and believe again that words can carry meaning. And I slowly regained my grip and was fine. And the night continued and friends showed up and I was festive again.

This all sounds more dramatic than it is and if you have never had panic attacks will likely make no sense at all, but this is what I have for therapy now and a desire to remember and record as I go. The upside of panic attacks is that they free you from some bonds and leave you feeling released and unassailable for a while.

And it is a beautiful day so I'll extract myself from this beastial computer and go enjoy the sun for a while.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

when the shoe is on the other foot...

(note: started this as a draft a while back. Am going back through trying to clean out some old junk which got started and never finished so I can harass Mason and make him finish a couple of things which he has started and never finished. Written 1/31/06; published 9/25/07.)

Just came across this on craigslist missed connections:
Stop Looking At Me!!! I'm NOT Gay!!! - m4m - 30
Reply to:

Date: 2006-01-27, 2:19AM EST

Listen, I have nothing against gay guys, but you have a way of making a guy feel uncomfortable. I know I'm hot, but I like pussy. If you have a cock, you have no shot. Stop the cruising. Stop the ogling...unless you're looking for a beat down... What are you people trying to take over the fucking world??? Not every amazing looking guy is gay. Now you made me angry. Geez!

I'll skip over the most glaringly obvious problem with this post (that being that it is a rant not a missed connection and everone hates idiots who post things in the wrong catogories), and jump straight to the sexist assumptions and a few hints for straight men who are uncomfortable with the attention.

1) just because someone is looking at you on the train doesn't mean that they want to jump your bones.

2) just because a guy is gay and looking at you doesn't mean he wants to have sex with you. Dude, you are in New York City, and I don't care how pretty you are, you aren't the only pretty person and you can't go ten minutes without running into another gay man. This isn't a city of slim pickings. If you aren't giving off some serious signals, no gay man on the subway thinks you are going to have sex with him or gives one good goddamn either way.

3) having established that your sacred man-cherry is not in danger from the leering homo masses, maybe you should chill out about people looking at you. Maybe it is because you are attactive; take it as a completment. Men fucking stare at women like they are slabs of meat all the time and act like a woman is hysterical if they say anything about it, but look at a straight man's ass and he will freak out like you were trying to eat his soul. Yeah, staring can be taken too far either way, but stop being a whiney idiot and suck it up over the casual glances. Grow a thicker skin nancy boy.

4) threats to kick the ass of a gay man that stares at you may be fun to type but try it in real life. No, don't. Insecure bullies pick out the weakest folks to pick on and target them when there aren't other folks around to defend them so I will make no "bring it on" commentary based on the fact that more than a few of us would punch you back and that much as I can get sick of gym-bunny gay boys, they certainly shift the likelihood of the queer being smeared in a fag-bash scenario.

Actually my favorite gay bash story is of my friend R walking down King Street in Charleston, SC when some punk makes a comment along the lines of "Hey queer boy, are you gay? I'm going to kick your ass!" At which point a very large, muscle-bound man turns around and to says to the asshole, "I'm gay, and I'm going to kick YOUR ass." At which point the jerk turns and runs and R thanks the fellow and continues on his way.

The original point of this wasn't to comment on who could kick who's ass but rather on the way that straight mean often objectify women and are blind to how it feels to be on the recieving end of such things. I'm not the type to treat women as delicate flowers who men have to be fawning and protective of, but I am also keenly aware of how differently men in general treat women versus how they treat other men.

sugar, a brief personal history and an inquiry into the cult of exclusivity

(started 5/9/06; finished 9/25/07)

Somewhere along the way, I began calling damn near everyone "Sugar."

It wasn't an intentional thing, but it has seemed to have become an indelible part of how I interact with people. To the point that some folks call me, "Sug." So what? Really not exactly the most exciting thing in the world, but lately a couple of people have asked if I say it to everyone or just them, wondering if it was a special term or if it was generic. Well, as I just said, I use the term quite a bit these days (along with, "babe" "sweetheart" "cutie" etc.), but though I definitely don't mean it in the same intimate way to a drinking buddy at a bar as I do with someone I am dating, it doesn't mean I don't mean it.

I've never been a territorial person. Actually, that is perhaps not true. I've never minded sharing space, possessions, food, affection, time, you name it... so long as there is enough to be shared without me being edged out, treated as a non entity. When I feel someone is taking an advantage of my openness, I become the most territorial person I know. Normal brain function shuts off and all I can think about is expelling this intrusion, this invader. For some reason, everytime this happens lately I seem to be out with Christian and he ends up being witness to my Mr. Hyde ice-storms. But back to sugar...

Can you say the same thing to everyone and mean it differently and still samely (is that a word?) to all of them? Because if I call someone 'sugar', I mean it nice. It is meant to be the syrupy sweet it sounds or I wouldn't be pouring it out at all. But can you pour out your affection for all the world and still be able to get across just how much that one beautiful person makes your heart swell with the same terms of endearment? Can you let your heart swell for all the world contains and still know/believe and communicate that the way one person makes you feel is still special in all of this?

For me these things have to be true; I have to be able to embrace the whole shebang and still make that one small most special corner of existence know its worth and know that I know it too.

I call you 'sugar' because I mean it.

that fine line between acceptance and resignation

(again, this is a dredged up draft from sometime last year, which I think I didn't publish because I thought that the characters it was written about would read it and take it personally and if posted with the knowldge that it would likely be read by who it was about, then it would necessarily end up being a message to them. I didn't write it as a passive aggressive message to anyone; I wrote it to sort out bits of my mind. Now that time has passed and I can't remember who I was thinking about when I wrote it, here it is. Originally writen 7/7/06.)

We'll see if I can manage to curb my tendency to write too long-windedly, and just stir a little bit into the murky crud which has been swirling through my mind. The last little bit has been a bit crazy.

I've never been an expert on sane living and never will be. Which suits me fine as I don't think many of us find ourselves surrounded by a sane world, and playing at pretending it is just an invitation to the devil, as two friends of mine have recently found out while succumbing to his second favorite game, the-way-it-is-supposed-to-be. This is the trouble with the devil: he doesn't really make you do it, so fighting and hating him won't get you anywhere. He's never been the one who commits the crime, only reminds you that you could.

You can lose your temper. You can run from your actions consequences. You can leave the consequences for others. You can push loved ones away and snuggle up to ridiculous fictions and believe it is all true. But the devil didn't make you do it, he just doesn't pretend letting it all go is impossible.

Southerners tend to grow up fairly intimately aware of temptations and the general crudeness of the world. We also tend to play fast and loose with our interpretations of reality and how we care to look at the world. Read any Faulkner or Flannery O'Connor. Don't for a second think I am disparaging an imaginative outlook and interpretation of your surroundings. You can construct any fanciful kingdom you care to live in, just be sure to be careful not to build the foundation on shifting sand or put any of the struts and beams where inconvient bits of harder, more solid reality might come crashing through.

This is, as my convoluted ramblings often are, going to be taken wrongly by the folks it is obliquely about. It isn't so much meant to be just about either of them and their delightful jaunts away from sanity and responsibility, but settling myself down while watching things spiral out of control around me. Here is where I find myself in that slippery place, wanting to reach out and grab and steer and save the ones around me that I love. Grab and scream and tell them they are making mistakes and how they can fix it all and hold their hands while they do.

Which of course I can't do. I can't fix it all and have enough trouble holding it all together myself. And I've slowly accepted that. Watching friends over the years self-destruct here and there, slipping over brinks I couldn't pull them back from and trying to put myself between them and whatever pain was headed their way... and by and large it doesn't work, until they ask for it. It isn't some external devil which I could ever slay. Until "you could..." and "you'll just fuck up eventually, so why not now?" and "they/you deserve it" lose their siren pull, there is no mast stout enough to bind them to.

So again I'll wander along, try to keep up and tell them I love them and pray the next time they are looking over some more desperate precipice that they won't take that next leap.

The Hidden Cameras: Debbie Does the Bowery

(started 11/12/06; finished 9/25/07)

I often make little plans for entities which I have no control over. Like who I would cast in movies of books I like or crap like that, but music seems to draw my manipulative interest even more. Like songs that I want to hear covered by someone new (who doesn't want to hear George Jones cover "Ninety-nine Red Balloons"?) or duets or trios that I think would be great (Why haven't Tori Amos, Bjork, and P.J. Harvey teamed up for the super album that I dream of when I slip into rare nostalgia for quirky, angsty songbird combination?).

There are a few bands that are probably too different to work in any kind of real combination, but who always put on an amazing show and make me want to dance and seem to throw out the same hectic energy in their differently little ways. In the world in my mind where I run things, in some massive old warehouse with multiple stages set up surrounding a central dance area, these bands would play in close succession, each set up on a different stage so the action could shift from one band to another seemlessly. Instead of any one band playing an hour-long set, each would play multiple shorter sets, intermixed with one another for hours of dancing fun for our delirious crowd. The line up would include Islands, Gogol Bordello, the Hidden Cameras, Old Crow Medicine Show, and the Scissor Sisters. Actually scratch the warehouse, let's move the fantasy outdoors, though I feel like we Americans don't really do outdoor festivals all that well.

(I'm wandering back through posts that I started and never finished and posting the fragments for the hell of it if they aren't too wretched, so this one was written last year sometime and I have no idea why I originally titled the way I did, except I am fairly certain I wrote it after seeing the hidden cameras at Bowery Ballroom. Oh wait, yes I do! Now I can sort of finish this...)

So when I saw the show at the BB that got me started writing this, the girl who plays the xylophone in the band completely rocked my world that night. She bears a striking resemblance to Debi Mazar and looked so happy and danced and smiled in such a fun way that it made the whole show that much better and my friend and I couldn't stop talking about how much we loved her. And it takes some serious distraction to tear my eyes off Joel Gibb, who as long as I'm explaining my fantasy world, wants to be my boyfriend and writes songs for me, but even with this most beautiful of men singing every song straight to me and only me, Debbie (I don't know her real name so I still call her Debbie and I know I could just google and figure out who she really is but so could you so leave me alone) was still the star of the show. The whole band has that way on stage that makes you want to be in a band, makes you dream of being on stage, making wish you could make a room full of people feel like they are making you feel when you watch them but Debbie had this something extra that made you feel that if you were watching her make toast you would want to make toast too. In my mind she goes everywhere and does everything with that same little bop that rocked my world so hard that night at that show.

That is the kind of energy I want to project. I still smile thinking about basking in it at that show.

Retards make a list and some thoughts on disparate groups coopting the eagle as a symbol

(started 6/1/05; posted 9/25/07)

Pandagon pointed me to this list on HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE of the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries

Amanadagon does a fine job busting their chops for being transparently dumb and I have already called them 'retards' in the title of this post, so I don't think their idiocy really warrents a whole lot more attention. They included John Stuart Mill and Rachel Carson. mr. bush, this is your constituency, your nation of retards.

But I was looking through the list of folks who contributed and noticed this:

"Phyllis Schlafly
Eagle Forum"

Now, I am vaguely familiar with phyllis schlafly, enough to know that I generally end up annoyed and wanting to bite someone when I read something she has said or someone starts quoting her, but I don't really pay much attention to her. Not worth the time. But the name of her organization struck me: "Eagle Forum."

Yes, the bald eagle is a national symbol, but that aside, I find it interesting the groups which commonly use the eagle (not necessarily the bald eagle) as their symbol. Two groups stand out in my mind: nazi/fascists/white supremicists and masculine fetish oriented gay men. A few quick qualifications about this:

1) I am not trying to equate these two groups.

2) I am using the unwieldy term 'masculine fetish oriented gay men' intentionally, because if you see a gay club called the Eagle, anywhere in the world, if you are at all familiar with gay culture, you will instantly have an idea of the main clientel. Not necessarily bears, not necessarily leather daddies, not necessarily boot-and-levi types but the word 'eagle' in a gay context instantly brings to mind some amalgum of masculinity fetishizing identity.

That said, perhaps there is some mutual appeal in the symbol of the eagle, or at least a certain stylized version, to both disparate groups. Nazism and facism are in ways also a sort of fetishizing on a grand scale. There is a hyper-masculine, power/order worship that characterizes these groups which maybe accounts for the similarity. Maybe it is just favored by people who like playing dress-up with butch uniforms.

Maybe not.

I know that modern white supremacy groups most likely get their affection for this symbol straight from nazi germany: the big art deco eagles on flags and banners; hitler's mountain hide-away, 'the Eagle's Nest.' Is their some historical significance for the nazi's adoption of the eagle? Is it as simple as just picking the big strong predator bird or is there something else?

Maybe the same for the 'mo fetish boys. Big, strong, menacing bird for those big, strong, menacing men? Maybe simply its military connotations. Maybe some historical context which I don't have at my finger tips.

What makes an eagle more appealing than another top predator? The ability to fly? It just looks good when art-decoized? That it targets much smaller prey and acts independently?

Oh well. This isn't terribly coherent so I'll end it.