Thursday, November 23, 2017

Dating Game

There is a game that is being played here, both of us realize the nature of the game, neither of us acknowledge it.

Reductions of human interactions to the first smile, the first handshake, the first touch of a hand upon the shoulder, the first half lidded glance across a table, the first half veiled innuendo, the first laugh, the first uncomfortable silence, the first dropped dress, the first unzipped pant, the first soft sighs, the first collapse into bed…

There is something about this game that appeals, especially the first volley played out between two individuals that feels like a date, even though it’s probably not a date, even though it’s really just public foreplay because we all want it to end the same way, but neither of us is willing to acknowledge that.

Meetings like this, over a shared bottle of wine, shared storytelling, sharing the little ins and outs of lives that we imagine make us fascinating people, half lies, half truths, half time which is really all time designed to lead up to time in embraces, and naked and warm and close, and leaving all the happy little lies and half truths, and half stories along with the pile of clothes upon the floor.

In theory there is no winner, and there is no loser, and there is no hero, or saint, or sinner in this little game we play out here.

Time, however, keeps a different scoreboard. Time, is the worst referee, as it never calls the fouls, doesn’t offer any replays, and will not communicate the actual score.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dealing with Privilege: She Wants Revenge

On the stage, another concert, another corset, another Friday night on the ground and not on a plane. Taking advantage of life, living life, being in the present with life.

The current moment is a difficult one where everyone is in the process of trying to understand what it means to be a decent human being and realizing that moral ideals are impossible for anyone to obtain. Look hard enough and we have all failed at our moral ideals.

We only punish the visible targets, while so many people continue to be the embodiment of all that is awful and there is almost nothing we can do it about it.

On the stage at a concert, on the stage at another show. There is a boy hoping for sex who has shown up to impress me with his ability to appear in my presence. His desire for sex is palpable. My desire not to have sex with should be as well, but the mere fact that he took the time to show up means that I will have sex. I can read it in his face and his body language. He’s going to be very disappointed.

There are girls all around me, this show attracting the dark goth girls, and the emo girls, and the girls in black because they don’t know better, and the girls that want to wear dark eyeliner, and the girls who want to wear low cut dresses, and the girls without girlfriends, and the girls with girlfriends, and the girls without boyfriends and the girls with boy friends, and then the girls like me with the hovering date who thinks he is going to get sex.

Then there were the other ones, the privilege men who are angry at everything, especially the political moment, especially the women, especially the girls, and especially the boyfriends. Possibly the boyfriends they hate most of all because they believe that have been robbed somehow of the available female that was owed to them.

Like the sex they thought they would get just because they showed up.

I was standing on the stage and waiting for the band to come on, making small talk with the guy that showed up and actually enjoy being surrounded by the dark goth friends, all the goth girls at the goth concert, a pleasant change. I’m leaning against the stage when walking privilege approaches me.

He starts to push to my left, and I just look at him saying no with my body.

He pushes again.

See, I lift hard, I workout hard, I do close to 100 push ups a day, I kick, I jump, I scream, and I’m not fucking small. When I’m dressed in black, wearing a 20 pound corset made of leather and steel, wearing four pound Docs, and pleasantly full of tequila, I’m not someone anyone should want to fuck with.

Privilege, however, was having known of it.

“Get out of the way.”


“You’re a bitch.”


He starts to push into the girl next to me to try to move her. Her boyfriend looks up and looks away.

“You’re being inappropriate!” I shout out him. I’ve been wanting to shout these words for days, to this asshole with privilege, to all the assholes with privilege, to the world for getting away with it, at the world that will continue to get away with it because at the end of the day I’ve never been assaulted by anyone well known enough to make it really matter.

“You fucking move. I want to be on the stage. This is my favorite band.”

He dives at me again. I don’t move. The guy that showed up looks away and melts towards the back of the crowd, kicking his feet nervously.
He goes at the girl on my right side. I step in.

“If you were a man, I’d punch you. I’d fucking punch you.”

“You’re being inappropriate!”

“This is why you don’t get laid. This is why no man wants to sleep with you. Cause your a fat, ugly, bitch.”

I smile at him. Poor Privilege. How it must hurt to be defied and to be wrong.

“I”m not going to fuck you now. What do you think about that. Move. Out. Of. My. Way.”

“You’re being inappropriate.”

“If you weren’t a man…”

Privilege is a broken record, spinning the same tired words, thinking that somehow he has found a way to hurt me. Perhaps, I am supposed to melt and cry. I certainly can’t have cut the figure of an inviting target, but here we are.


“You’re being inappropriate.”

“Fuck, fuck…” Finally the boyfriends from either side of the stage turn and look at him, and finally he huffs and puffs and goes away.

The one that showed up returns behind me, “That was pretty amazing you know, yeah, that was pretty good.”

I just look at him.

The band comes on stage.

There's nothing to see here, people, keep moving on.
Slowly their necks turn, and then they're gone,
No one cares when the show is done.
Standing in line and it's cold and you want to go.
Remember a joke so you turn around
There's no one to listen, so you laugh by yourself.

The guy who showed up gave me a ride home after the show. His face was a face of wonder when the car door closed and I faded into the darkness without looking back.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Not White

"It's hard given the current administration?"

"How can you not love the current administration we all have jobs because of it."

I'm listening to the conversation between these two men. 

"Yes, but...I mean...look at -"

"I'm conservative. This administration is conserving things, it's good for us."

He looks at me.

"You know how great it has been for our industry. You are at the top of it."

"There is industry and there is what this administration represents," I say to both of them, "I understand the pros and cons, but honestly, the cons are very con."

"But, you have to know how bad it would have been if Hillary had won?"

"No, I don't."


"I probably wouldn't have been told to go back to Mexico so many times."

"But your white."

"I'm not white."

"Well, what are you?"

"It doesn't matter"

"Like you look like there is something there but it's probably exotic, you know. I did 23andme and I thought I was 100 percent white Italian, but apparently there is 10 percent Greek in there. You should do that and find out. Maybe you are not what you think."

"My family is descended from devils and conquistadors."

Blank stares. 

I know enough about my genealogy. One half of the family is from Puerto Rico. Descendents of the Taiano and the conquistadors. One half of may family is decedent from Deborah Leeds. Leeds, famous as the mother of deformed 13th child that would escape into the pine barrens in New Jersey to become the Jersey Devil. I am an amalgamation of devil, sorcery, destruction and occupation. 

"You look like your, like your Romanian. You shouldn't worry. You're probably not as Latino as you think." I identify myself as Latino to the mostly Italian. 


"I would have said like, Hawaiian. Maybe you are Hawaiian."

"You are missing the point."

"Where were you when this happened. When you were identified as not white?"

I answer. 

I should not have answered. 


"Atlanta, really? No, they are so progressive. It was just tourists. People from Atlanta wouldn't say something like that."

I stare at him after that. I don't know what do say. He excuses himself to get a drink and I move away from the venue, dropping my glass on a tray before I hit the escalators and escape away from the crowd, the assumptions, the underlying thought...

Saturday, November 04, 2017


"What's it like to be in zero gravity?" I ask.

"It's hard to explain because NASA pumps you full of-"

There is a quiet pause here, eyes connecting, waiting for the sentences to finish. Hand on my foot with little electric shivers up my spine.

"I'm sorry can I kiss you. I'm just really distracted by your lips." Statement.

Distracted by his words, distracted by this hands on my foot, on my legs, kneading out tension that has been building over the last few days on the run. Muscles are tight and unwilling to relax even under the skillful pressure. Sounds fill the space, pleasure or pain is an unknown now, just the freedom of being able to relax...

Talk of space and science and programming and...

"Like a gravity powered engine?"

"Not like that."

"We know so little about gravity it's like magic." Magic like his hands on my thigh.

"We know a lot about gravity."


"We know it is a wave. We know that now." Listening to the explanation, voice in the void, his hands on my body, his words filling up the spaces in between with something more. He has a voice I can listen to for hours. I don't want to talk about anything, just be in the here and now and this moment is...

Somewhere in space a star is contracting and expanding, contracting and expanding, contracting and taking everything in the surrounding space into it, a fast process a slow process, sucking up all the space around it and filling itself with all the ethereal matter, dark and light, stardust and moon dust and particle fever.

It fills until it contracts to nothing, tightness, wound up deep, solid, until explosive light fills the void with the universe open and receiving as the tension winds down.

There is cool air in the void around us, lying intertwined in whiteness, discussing the universe and life and the magical variety of human entanglement.

Sleep comes much later and I am full of warmth and content and the stars.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Marie Christine

A random text message on a Saturday morning from Mr. Spanker inquiring if I might be interested in joining a club in Chicago like the one I used to be a member of in New York. The club helps put you in seats for shows with a fee of basically zero.

"I'm in."

Twenty minutes later I had a text with an offering of tickets to an off-Broadway Chicago production called Marie Christine. Half awake, half amused, recalling a conversation with Calembour only a few days ago about how I wasn't a fan of musicals or musical productions.

The gods do love irony.

Since I had so kindly been gifted Violent Femmes tickets, I returned the offer in kind and ended up with a date for the show on Saturday. We got to the theater early enough to grab tickets and found the best fucking fish place in Chicago in the process as we wandered about looking for a quick lunch.

Having never heard of the show before I had nothing to go on but the most basic abstract: Marie Christine, daughter of a slave and a plantation owner, falls tragically in love with a future Chicago politician. She ends up in Chicago, in love, with two sons and a husband who wants her to disappear, tragedy ensues.

Honestly, there wasn't that much to go on so I wasn't exactly sure what to be prepared for. In a year where I am making more of an effort to connect with my own status as a latina, explorations of culture, race, and identity are high on the list of interest. I probably should have dug a bit more into the story though being unprepared made the entire experience better.

And before I languish in poetic descriptions a quick note on the production: everything you would expect from a fully on Broadway show in a small Chicago theater. An orchestra was tucked into the backstage providing beautiful live accompaniment to the amazing acting and vocal production happening on the stage. Choreography was exquisite, as was the staging. The prop master and costume designer deserve some credit as well. I've paid a couple of hundred dollars to see traveling productions that weren't even close to this well put together though they probably had seven times the budget. This was phenomenal example of what theater can be when everyone puts in their hearts and souls.

Hearts and souls were in the story.

Random internet abstract did not really do justice to the story. Marie is not some childish whimpering half pampered plantation princess with a muddied past and a Juliet future. She is already a powerful, demanding woman, voodoo priestess, seductress, mistress, power embodied female. Fearless and unbound and uninterested, with the flaw that many fearless, unbound and uninterested women sometimes harbor; bottomless capacity to love and to love wrongly.

I see in this woman seduced by the chase, the belief that it is her and not her money or power or small amounts of influence, but her that is the center of the universe for that brief time. Count down time on your fingers, love clock ticking with the loves you desperately believed loved you back for a evening, for several years. What was the root of that commitment in the end but times passage, stories to tell, and memories only one person harbors. Feelings to deep that the pressure looking up from the bottom of a memory well is crushing.

Down there I watch this play, this show and I am wrapped in her enchantments and seductions and desperation for the right decision among wrong decisions. She exits as she enters, a power, older, wiser, but not undone by her entanglements.

And this is a feeling I know.

It was cathartic to watch.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Violent Femmes at the Vic

Apparently the end of October was all about music from my youth. In the last few months I've been downsizing my closet onto a practical body double and teacher who can use some clothes. During the last swap we both discussed our interest in going to shows and the tragedy of buying two tickets and having no date.

"For example, I have tickets to the Violent Femmes on Saturday."


"No date."

"I'll go."


"Let's do it." 

And so it was set. I immediately felt like an ass for not getting two tickets to Tori cause I could have had a date for a change, but didn't mind taking advantage of the extra ticket to the Femmes. The teacher picked me up around 6 so we could get dinner and shenanigans would ensue from there. 

The Femmes are in that music zone of not so much rebellion but survival. The last few years that I lived with El Diablo Madre were perhaps the most fraught with the danger that I might not make it out alive. Books and music were my refuge and the Femmes came into my life as a best of compilation that covered most of their music from 80 to 90, which means, basically, all of the first album and then some nice outtakes like I Dig the Black Girls, American Music and Cowboy Death Song. Pair that up properly with the grunge scene, the alt-indie scene I somehow managed to discover and a hearty, heaping helping of Beethoven and Bach and you have the soundscape that got me through the things. I'm almost 41. I made it out alive, but I recall that time and there were days when that was a near thing.

Which is why when I saw the Femmes were touring Riot Fest I was on the stage rail for damn near four hours so I could be upfront for that show. It was a good show but somehow the Gordon seemed faded at the time, like the energy was there but it was a slowly deflating balloon. During the musical death cull of 2016 I wondered daily if Gordon Gano may not be listed among those that would not make it out alive. 

At the end of October 2017 I was happy to see that he was still kicking, and that the band was back together and touring. I wasn't sure what to expect at the Vic but I was excited to see the show, corseted to the nines and giddy with the combined energy of so many concerts in a single week. We had tickets for seats, which later would seem like a tragic mistake, but during the opener allowed for relaxed enjoyment.

Brett Newski was charming and talented on the guitar with excellent story songs that were a great way to warm into the Femmes. Certainly someone I hope to see again, as his albums are going into the rotation. If you like humor, charm, and handsome Polish boys from Milwaukee, than you should give Brett a Listen. Gordon even joined him for a track. All over a good show. 

It was a nice way to work into the Femmes. 

Then, the lights go down, the lights come up, the Femmes come on the stage. Stacked with everything you would want to see, saxaphones and drums and a motherfucking grill. There is a sudden tension in the audience and I have this moment where I can fully understand someone getting on stage and shouting "You can't fuck with the Violent Femmes, you can't fuck with this band."

Sliding slow into the full set and starting with Confessions, they build into the sound, creating on the backs of the screams of the audience a wall of powerful music. I don't know what changed in the two years between the last time I saw the Femmes and now, but holy fuck. I don't know if Gordon and Brian are draining the blood of young virgins or sacrificing clowns or unicorn framing, but sweet merciful goddess where they on point. 

I personally thought the last album was brilliant and they do a great job of weaving in tracks from the entire catalog. By the time they get into Blister and the Sun, the whole theater is on their feet and form there I could not sit back down. This was an electric show with the Femmes providing every ounce of wattage. Thrashing and stomping and swaying about mixing big band sound without the peripheral weirdness of Zappa, this was good music, this was a good set. I was fucking ecstatic. 

Whatever they are doing, I hope they keep doing it because this was borderline orgiastic and I'm very hopeful to hear more new music and see them again in different shows. 

This particular rock out in Chicago should definitely go on the permanent record. 

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Tori Amos at Chicago Theater

Tori Amos put out her 15th study album in September and announced her tour just around the same time she announced the album. The amount of press around this tour has been rather quiet though, considering the lengths she went to with the Unrepentant Geraldines tour. I'm wondering if it doesn't have something to do with the album itself.

I have been a die hard Tori fan since her Little Earthquakes, and I don't see that every changing. Sometimes you just need to listen to Tori. That said, her latest album didn't really catch me and that is a first as I've found something to love off of pretty much everything she produced.

My love for Tori is a emotional though and I've barely listened to the new album, so perhaps the feelings will come. I remember all things Tori. I remember all the sensations from the first time I heard Little Earthquakes on some four in the morning MTV music round of for obscure alternative artists. I remember getting the cassette and plugging in the first time.

The album.

  • Crucify, the first time I realized it was okay to be entirely disenchanted with my family and family life. 
  • Girl, the realization that I had never really considered a world in which I live for myself alone. 
  • Silent all these years, I'm listening to myself, even if know one else is listening. 
  • Precious Things, there are not words. With this song there are only all the sensations of abuse, loathing, self-hate, self-doubt, self-shaming, and the desperation to try to find acceptance in the hands of abusers and how fucking pointless it all is. Precious Things if forever. 
  • Winter, if know one else is going to, I better learn to love myself. 
  • Happy Phantom, don't stop being happy because everyone around you wants to be miserable. 
  • China, it all changes, whether I want it to or not. 
  • Leather, you can be bold, and a badass, and you can still be down and suffering and in the end be strong for you. 
  • Mother, better than my own and comforting to think of how you can create a connection with nurturers that are not around you. 
  • Tear in my hand, there is power that I didn't know existed. 
  • Me and  Gun, I just cry, I still cry, I still feel every word of this song. 
  • Little Earthquakes, give me life, give me pain, give me myself again.

Yes, well, yes.

The album is a scensescape of colors and dreams that a young girl who was oppressed, abused, and abandoned needed. The words, the music provided strength, and still do, have, for years and years. Each building album since then adds new words and sounds and colors and feelings to those original ones. It is a pleasure to sit and watch her on stage, to sing along, sing my heart out, and feel for a moment connected to someone how helped me survive the dangerous times of my life in a way I cannot fully catalog or express.

In her most recent incarnation as a mother earth princess, she plays the stage in Chicago with ease. Working the audience up to a fever pitch by starting off with Ieee off of Choirgirl Hotel and then moving seamlessly back and forth and up and down the most popular offerings on her catalog. I know the words to ever song and I sing and I shake and a clap and I stomp as I listen. She is so perfect and so powerful, even now.

This is the third time I've seen her and I swear to all the gods above the next time I will be center stage to watch her. It was too good to take pictures, as that would have been a distraction and for this particular night, I did not want to be distracted.